On Tuesday, Congress questioned Melissa Dalton, President Biden’s candidate for the second-highest civilian position in the Air Force. National security concerns were raised about the Department of Defense‘s disputed border wall component sale and Chinese spy balloon handling. This narrative report discusses the hearing’s main issues, including the nominee’s comments and senators’ reservations.
Scrutiny on Melissa Dalton: Senate Committee Questions Credentials and Handling of Critical Issues
The Senate Committee on Armed Services heard from Pentagon Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton. Senators questioned her eligibility as Under Secretary of the Air Force due to her insufficient Air Force experience.
Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker questioned Dalton’s credentials in his opening speech, citing the Air Force and Space Force’s deficits under her leadership. Wicker worried about Dalton’s effectiveness in her present role, citing military division, preparedness, and modernization.
1. Chinese Spy Balloon: Senators questioned the Department of Defense’s handling of a Chinese surveillance balloon that crossed the entire U.S. Wicker said Dalton was taken off guard and evaded constitutional supervision when Congress requested further information.
2. Border Wall Parts Sale: The Department of Defense spent $130,000 daily to stockpile and auction border wall building supplies for pennies on the dollar, raising concerns. While illegal migration reached historic levels, lawmakers criticized the Department’s inability to use produced goods.
3. Homeland Defense Planning Advice: Dalton was criticized for tardily submitting the Homeland Defense Planning Guidance nearly a year after the National Defense Strategy. Senators felt her track record tarnished her candidacy.
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Senators Question Decision-Making on Chinese Spy Balloon and Call for Trust Restoration
Senators Mike Rounds and Kevin Cramer questioned Dalton’s participation in the Chinese spy balloon incident and her choice not to shoot it down until it departed the American sky. After recent incidents that asked for their original support for her candidacy, rounds stressed that Dalton needed to win the committee’s trust.
Melissa Dalton argued that top U.S. military authorities advised against shooting down the Chinese surveillance balloon above U.S. land. She said the agency learned from the tragedy and developed homeland defense policy advice.
The hearing raised issues about Melissa Dalton’s credentials, judgment, and the Department of Defense’s critical incident response. Senators stressed the need to evaluate rules and procedures and questioned Dalton’s leadership skills in her prospective job. More reviews and considerations will follow the nomination process.