Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senate Panel Approves GOP Rep. McHugh as Army Secretary

Aug. 4, 2009 – 2:09 p.m.

Rep. John M. McHugh moved closer to confirmation as Army secretary Tuesday when the Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination by voice vote.

Democratic leaders are seeking unanimous consent to have him confirmed by the full Senate by the end of the week, spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said.

President Obama nominated McHugh, of New York, the former ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, on June 2.

McHugh has represented New York’s 23rd District for 16 years and served on the Armed Services Committee since 1993. He succeeded Duncan Hunter , of California, as the ranking Republican on that panel in January and left the post after his nomination was announced.

Beyond McHugh’s qualifications, his selection is thought to have political implications. Unlike many other Republicans from Northeastern states, McHugh easily survived his last two elections, but Democrats have had increasing success at the local level in his rural district, which has sent Republicans to the House since 1872. Democrats hope removing his name from the ballot could favor a Democratic candidate in a resulting special election.

From McHugh’s perspective, New York is at risk of losing at least one congressional district in the next round of redistricting, meaning his career in the House was at risk of ending despite his political success.

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