US Senate confirms former lobbyist Esper as secretary of defense Jul 24, 2019 0 1111 12345 WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Army Secretary Mark Esper to be secretary of defense, ending the longest period by far that the Pentagon has been without a permanent top official. The Senate backed Esper, a former soldier and lobbyist for weapons maker Raytheon Co., to be President Donald Trump''s second confirmed leader of the Pentagon by 90-8. Esper, 55, received strong bipartisan support despite some sharp questioning during his confirmation hearing by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren about his ties to Raytheon and his refusal to extend an ethics commitment he signed in 2017 to avoid decisions involving the company. Warren, a 2020 presidential hopeful, was the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to voice opposition to Esper''s confirmation during the hearing. Raytheon is the third-largest U.S. defense contractor. There has been no confirmed defense secretary since Jim Mattis resigned in December over policy differences with Trump. Many members of Congress from both parties had urged the Republican president to act urgently to fill the powerful position. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on members to support Esper as he opened the Senate on Tuesday morning. "The nominee is beyond qualified. His record of public service is beyond impressive. His commitment to serving our service members if beyond obvious. And the need for a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense is beyond urgent," McConnell said. An Army veteran, Esper had served as a congressional aide and a Pentagon official under Republican President George W. Bush before working for Raytheon. He has been Army secretary since November 2017. Trump''s previous pick to be secretary of defense, former Boeing Co. executive Patrick Shanahan, withdrew from consideration on June 18 after reports emerged of domestic violence in his family. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler) RELATED ARTICLES India denies seeking Trump’s mediation in Kashmir, oppn grills govt Jul 24, 2019 0 1031 Boris Johnson wins race to become Britain’s next PM Jul 24, 2019 0 824 Trial opens for Philippine journalist critical of President Duterte Jul 24, 2019 0 1044 China says it will ‘not tolerate foreign forces’ in Hong Kong AFP Beijing China on Tuesday slammed the US and Britain for interfering in Hong Kong affairs after the two countries voiced concerns about a vicious assault on pro-democracy protesters. The savage beating of the Hong .. Pakistan PM says will try to persuade Taliban to meet Afghan govt REUTERS WASHINGTON Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said he would try meet with the Taliban in an effort to persuade the group to meet with the Afghan government, as the United States seeks to end the nearly .. Spain PM loses first parliament vote to remain in power Madrid: Spanish caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez lost a first parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday as he seeks to remain in power after an inconclusive general election. A second, decisive vote has been .. Kabul seeks clarification on Trump talk of ‘wiping out Afghanistan’ KABUL: Afghanistan called on Tuesday for an explanation of comments by US President Donald Trump in which he said he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by wiping out Afghanistan but did not want to kill 10 million .. JD(S)- Cong govt loses trust vote in India’s Karnataka assembly, CM quits AGENCIES BENGALURU Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tendered his resignation after the Congress-JD(S) government failed to survive trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday, with the coalition falling ..