Sen. Ernst on Why She Hopes One Defense Nomination 'Is Dead'

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Posted: Mar 18, 2021 10:50 AM
Sen. Ernst on Why She Hopes One Defense Nomination 'Is Dead'

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Both radio host Hugh Hewitt and his guest Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) agreed on Thursday that the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy nominee Colin Kahl is "just a bad guy." The best thing that to happen to his nomination, Ernst said, is for it to quickly fizzle out.

As the senator explained, Kahl has a record of maligning Republicans. Lawmakers who defended President Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in 2019 “debase themselves at the alter of Trump — they are the party of ethnic cleansing,” Kahl wrote at the time. In his Senate confirmation hearing, Kahl apologized for what he called his “sometimes disrespectful” language. That didn't appease Ernst and many of her colleagues.

"Well, I hope it is dead," Ernst said of the nomination. "But I don’t know where they will try and go with this. This is a very polarizing individual who has been brought forward. I have seen no Republican support so far. This is a gentleman who not just once or twice, but for years lashed out at Republicans, called us the party of ethnic cleansing, and yet this is someone who wants to direct policy for the Department of Defense. I don’t think it’s a wise move to put him in place." 

"I don’t know this fellow, but judging by his record, he has got the, he’s just a bad guy," Hewitt noted.

Sen. Ernst agreed, adding that she's also concerned about his foreign policy agenda, one that is "very supportive" of the controversial Iranian nuclear deal.

"What we have been able to see exhibited, again through his tweets and the other types of social media articles and so forth is that he goes off the handle at any little thing," Ernst explained. "He is scathing in his comments, and it’s not directed at just one person or another, but groups of people at large. The example that I gave you, the Republican Party is the party of ethnic cleansing, he has also been extremely supportive of the Iranians and the Iranian nuclear deal, which I am opposed to. You know, we didn’t stop the Iranians from developing nuclear capabilities for weapons. We just slowed it down and encouraged them to do it in a safe manner. So there’s a lot of issues I see with this nomination." 

"I’m very adamant that this is not the type of person we want to see serving in our Department of Defense," she said.

Sen. Ernst explained that she has a personal opposition to him, as her daughter is currently enrolled at the United States Military Academy. 

"She’ll be a second lieutenant here in another year serving in our great United States Army," she said. "And I do not want that man at the helm directing my daughter and her peers when it comes to policy. I think he’s a very dangerous individual. He’s a very caustic individual. We should not be confirming him."

It's been two weeks since Kahl's confirmation hearing, but the Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to schedule a vote on whether to advance his nomination to the floor.