Jack Torry in our Washington Bureau is reporting that following a private meeting with Pentagon nominee Ashton Carter, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he would vote to confirm Carter later this week to replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense. The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Carter's nomination today.
“I appreciated the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Carter today to discuss many of the issues he will face in the Pentagon -- from the crisis in Ukraine, important weapons programs, and taking care of our men and women in uniform," Portman said. "Having reviewed his testimony before the Armed Services committee and having talked to him further about issues today, I plan to support his nomination," adding that he hopes "we can swiftly confirm him and get him on the job. He has many challenges ahead, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”
During his confirmation hearings last week, Carter said he would support sending defensive weapons to Ukraine to battle the Russian-backed rebels. While President Barack Obama has not made a decision on sending arms, Portman has urged the White House to ship defensive weapons, such as anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine.