WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Wednesday may
consider and vote on the nomination of William Lynn, a former
Raytheon Co lobbyist, to become deputy defense
secretary, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.
Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate
Finance Committee, has decided not to use his senatorial
privilege to hold up the nomination of Lynn, for whom the White
House had to waive tough new ethics rules.
But Grassley plans to make a lengthy statement about his
concerns on the Senate floor Wednesday, said spokeswoman
Beth Levine. Grassley has called the White House waiver a
"giant loophole" in the new ethics rules and said it would pave
the way for other potential nominees to circumvent the rules.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last week voted to
recommend Lynn's confirmation by the full Senate after the
panel's top Republican, John McCain, who had also raised
concerns about Lynn, said he would not hold up the nomination.
The Senate had hoped to vote on Lynn's nomination
Tuesday, but put off the vote due to questions raised by an
unidentified Republican senator.
Lynn was the Pentagon's chief financial officer from
November 1997 to January 2001 under former President Bill
Clinton and then worked for Raytheon, the Pentagon's No. 6
supplier, as a registered lobbyist from July 2002 to March
2008. He is now a senior vice president for the company.
His nomination drew fire and required the White House
Office of Management and Budget to grant a waiver from newly
ordered ethics standards just days after the rules were issued
by President Barack Obama as one of his first acts in office.
Grassley also raised concerns about Lynn's performance
while serving as the Pentagon's chief financial officer,
including his approval of Pentagon accounting procedures, an
issue Grassley had investigated in 1999.
In a letter dated Feb. 9, Lynn assured Grassley that he
would be bound by most provisions of the ethics standards,
except those affected by the OMB waiver.
"I believe that my nomination is consistent with the spirit
and intent of President Obama's executive order," Lynn said.
Lynn said he also remained bound by provisions in the rules
that restrict a government official's ability to take a job in
a related industry for certain periods after leaving office.
Most people with direct control over acquisition decisions are
restricted from taking jobs in a related industry for periods
ranging from one to five years.
Lynn has said he will steer clear for a year of decisions
involving six arms programs on which he lobbied on behalf of
Raytheon if confirmed by the Senate: the DDG-1000 multi-mission
combat ship, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air missile, F-15
airborne radar, Patriot missile "Pure Fleet" modernization, the
National Reconnaissance Office's Future Imagery Architecture
and the Missile Defense Agency's Multiple Kill Vehicle.
Some watchdog groups question whether the ethics
restrictions will hamper Lynn's ability to do his job as the
Pentagon's second-highest ranking official, a job in which he
will sign off on many major acquisition decisions.
Two sources tracking Obama administration nominations said
on Tuesday the White House had finished vetting Ashton Carter,
a Harvard University professor and former Pentagon official,
and was poised to nominate him for the job of chief weapons
White House officials were unavailable to comment on the
expected nomination, which has not raised concerns like those
surrounding Lynn's nomination.
If anything, said Mandy Smithberger, an investigator with
the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, her
organization was worried because Carter did not have
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Carol Bishopric)