The confirmation hearing for Anthony Tata, a controversial nominee for a top Pentagon job, was canceled Thursday shortly before it was scheduled to start as it became clear he might not have the votes to make it through the committee.
In a statement, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said, “There are many Democrats and Republicans who didn’t know enough about Anthony Tata to consider him for a very significant position at this time.”
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“We didn’t get the required documentation in time; some documents, which we normally get before a hearing, didn’t arrive until yesterday,” he continued. “As I told the president last night, we’re simply out of time with the August recess coming, so it wouldn’t serve any useful purpose to have a hearing at this point, and he agreed.”
The announcement came after Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he was opposing Tata’s nomination for undersecretary of Defense for policy unless the Pentagon changes its position on adding the names of sailors killed on the USS Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War to the war memorial in Washington.
“If the department does not make significant changes to its policy, I plan to oppose Tata’s nomination,” Cramer said in a statement last week.
With 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats on the committee, Cramer’s position tips the balance against Tata advancing out of the panel.
Meanwhile, Democrats have opposed Tata for vastly different reasons. A retired Army brigadier general, Tata in 2018 called former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader” on Twitter. He also said the Iran nuclear deal came about because of Obama’s “Islamic roots” and was an attempt “to help Iranians and the greater Islamic state crush Israel.”
“We’re a bipartisan committee. It’s fair to say members on both sides of the aisle have raised serious questions about this nominee,” said Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the committee. “We had a closed-door session on Tuesday and today’s public hearing has now been cancelled. Chairman Inhofe did the right thing here, and it’s clear this nomination isn’t going anywhere without a full, fair, open hearing.”
The White House remains supportive of Tata, who has been a pro-Trump commentator on Fox News.
Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.