WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Armed Services voted on Wednesday to advance the nomination of Colin Kahl to serve as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
The vote was entirely along party lines. The next stage for Kahl’s nomination would be a vote on the Senate floor, and in the case of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris could cast a tie-breaking vote.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked on Wednesday if the White House was still behind his nomination and answered: “Absolutely. Colin is qualified. He’s experienced. And he would bring an incredible reservoir of perspective to the job at the Department of Defense. So we look forward to his confirmation.”
In recent weeks, Christians United For Israel announced a six-figure ad-buy in several West Virginia newspapers to press Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat and a member of the committee, to oppose the nomination.
The CUFI Action Fund released a statement on Wednesday saying it was “disappointed” by Manchin’s vote.
“None have questioned the accuracy of the claims we have made concerning Dr. Kahl’s record,” the statement reads. “He remains a serial Iran appeaser, and his record of antagonism towards Israel is shameful. As the tied committee vote shows, Dr. Kahl is an overtly partisan pick. His advancement harms the longstanding, bipartisan consensus on a range of national security issues.”
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of CUFI, told The Jerusalem Post that “Colin Kahl’s default position seems to be to appease Iran,” and that “his attitude toward Israel reflects a deeply misguided worldview. Kahl backed the Iran nuclear accord, has close ties to pro-Iran groups in Washington, and has expressed his belief that Iran has a right to enrich uranium. Kahl once worked to remove recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the Democratic party platform, worked to advance an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council, and has even gone so far as to criticize Israel’s decision to attack Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.”
A group of 50 Jewish public figures sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee members urging them to support Kahl’s nomination. Former ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spearheaded the letter, together with other former ambassadors such as Martin Indyk and Dan Kurtzer. Former undersecretary of defense for policy Michele Flournoy and Gen. John Allen have signed the letter as well.
“Just as we are confident that Dr. Kahl is committed to the US-Israel relationship, we also know he has never wavered in his effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” they wrote.
“Colin Kahl is an outstanding choice to be undersecretary of defense for policy,” Shapiro told the Post. “He has the deep respect of defense and foreign policy experts, members of Congress, and Jewish community leaders, not least because of his strong commitment and many accomplishments in strengthening US-Israel security cooperation.
“With his nomination before the Senate, Colin has been unfairly and ludicrously smeared as anti-Israel. People who know him and have worked with him wanted to set the record straight.”