Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties

A pair of progressive House Democrats is urging President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBrewery launches new Biden beer described as ‘inoffensive and not too bitter’ Deb Haaland says ‘of course’ she would serve as Interior secretary under Biden State Department won’t give Biden messages from foreign leaders: report MORE not to nominate a Pentagon chief who has previously worked for a defense contractor.

“Respectfully, and in full agreement with your past statements, we write to request that the next secretary of Defense have no prior employment history with a defense contractor,” Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanCutting defense spending by 10 percent would debilitate America’s military Progressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS ‘human rights abuses’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Barrett touts independence to sidestep confirmation questions MORE (D-Wis.) and Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeProgressives unveil Biden Cabinet wish list Pressure grows on California governor to name Harris replacement Cutting defense spending by 10 percent would debilitate America’s military MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Biden released Thursday.

Pocan is the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Lee is the caucus’s chairwoman emeritus.

As House members, Pocan and Lee will not get a vote on Biden’s eventual nominee. But the letter signals the progressive position on the woman widely seen as Biden’s likely choice, Michèle Flournoy.

Flournoy, who was under secretary of Defense for policy in the Obama administration, co-founded consultant group WestExec Advisors, which counts defense contractors among its clients. She is also on the board of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Pocan and Lee’s letter does not mention Flournoy. Rather, they “strongly” urge Biden to “reject the mistaken nominations of the Trump era.”

Pocan and Lee cited the defense contractor ties of former Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperMarkey reiterates calls for nuclear no-first-use policy amid Pentagon shake-up New Pentagon chief hires adviser who wants quick withdrawal from Afghanistan The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Republicans secure 50 Senate seats MORE, who worked for Raytheon before joining the administration; former acting Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanTrump fires Defense chief Mark Esper House Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout MORE, who worked for Boeing; and former Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump fires Defense chief Mark Esper Talk grows of Trump firings at Pentagon, CIA President Trump: To know him is to ‘No’ him MORE, who served on the board at General Dynamics.

“Additionally, nearly half of all senior Defense Department officials are connected to military contractors,” they wrote. “Despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpState Department won’t give Biden messages from foreign leaders: report Arizona’s GOP AG says people voted Republican, but not for Trump On The Money: Biden wins America’s economic engines | Progressives praise Biden’s picks for economic transition team | Restaurants go seasonal with winter shutdowns during pandemic MORE‘s boast that he would ‘drain the swamp’ and hire ‘only the best people,’ he has continually failed to do so.”

Pocan and Lee also highlighted former President Eisenhower’s famed warning against the “unwarranted influence” of the military-industrial complex, writing that “it is unsurprising that the largest defense budgets in our nation’s history have come at a time during which senior defense personnel are intimately connected — through past, and future, employment — to the corporations profiting most from those very same budgets.”

“The transition from President Trump’s administration to yours promises to be the end of what you have called ‘the dark era,’ ” they added. “The legacy of Trump’s presidency will undoubtedly linger, but one way we can quickly distance the nation from the stain of his tenure is to immediately remove the profiteering ethos Donald Trump fostered throughout government.”

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