Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to urge Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday to support President Joe Biden’s nominee for the top Pentagon policy job amid criticism of his past Twitter posts, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The administration is seeking Manchin’s support after Colin Kahl, the nominee to be the undersecretary of defense for policy, faced backlash from Republican senators during his confirmation hearing last week over past tweets criticizing GOP officials and Trump administration policies.
While the West Virginia moderate has not said publicly whether he intends to support Kahl’s nomination, he recently became the only Democrat to voice his opposition to Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, over inflammatory tweets. The White House ultimately pulled Tanden’s nomination due to concerns she did not have the votes to be confirmed.
In Kahl’s case, without Manchin’s vote, Biden would need a Republican senator to support the nominee in order to confirm him in a 50-50 Senate.
Manchin did not attend Kahl’s confirmation hearing last week, giving no public indication where he stands on Kahl. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A defense official confirmed that a phone call with Manchin was on Austin’s schedule for Tuesday, but would not provide details about its content.
Senate Republicans ripped Kahl at last week’s Armed Services confirmation hearing for tweets criticizing former President Donald Trump’s policies and Republican lawmakers. The outing was far and away the most contentious yet for a Biden Pentagon nominee.
Several top GOP members declared during the hearing that they would vote against Kahl, citing his rhetoric and views on Middle East policy, including his advocacy for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Alex Thompson contributed to this report.