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February 11, 2016

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August 30, 2013

Why Won’t the Senate Let Joe Heck Become a General?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the Senate left town for the August recess, senators confirmed nominees for an assortment of posts ranging from Amtrak board member to ambassador to the Vatican. But one member of Congress’ military promotion was left in limbo.

Army Reserve Col. Joe Heck is up for what appears to be a routine promotion to be a brigadier general. But no seems to be able to say why Heck, who is known on the House floor as “the gentleman from Nevada,” has been stopped in his tracks.

The GOP congressman’s nomination is apparently being held up by something or someone, given that it has been languishing on the Senate calendar since May. The reasons for the delay could involve the constitutionality of promoting a lawmaker to the rank of general, or they could simply be related to Pentagon policy. Then there’s the question of whether a member of Congress should also serve as a general overseeing all Army Reserve field medical units on the East Coast.

Regardless, there’s no evidence of a hold originating from a Senate office.

Still, the delay likely has been caused by either the Senate or the Defense Department. But Senate leadership and Pentagon sources — both military and civilian — have professed to have no idea what prompted the delay in Heck’s elevation or have played coy, leaving the mystery unresolved.

As is customary, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to comment on the nomination, and the Pentagon wouldn’t say much more.

“Rep. Heck was nominated to the position of brigadier general, but has not yet been confirmed by Congress. It is inappropriate to comment on pending nominations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman.

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