VIDEO: Heinrich Questions Department Of Defense Nominees On Domestic Violence Reporting Loophole, Other Key Issues

Pressed nominees on domestic violence reporting in the military, DACA recipients recruited by the military, and Air Force technician shortages

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) participated in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider the nominations of Anthony Kurta to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, James McPherson to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army, and Gregory Maggs to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

During the hearing, Senator Heinrich secured a commitment from Army General Counsel nominee James McPherson to undertake an analysis of the Army database to ensure any gaps in reporting domestic violence are closed. Senator Heinrich highlighted the Air Force’s recent failure to report a domestic violence offense that allowed the shooter in the Texas church mass shooting to obtain a firearm and expressed the need to understand the scope of the problem across the military and take action to address the issue. Senator Heinrich recently introduced bipartisan legislation to close the background check loophole and ensure that any individual convicted of domestic violence – whether it is in criminal or military court – cannot legally purchase a firearm.

During Senator Heinrich’s questioning, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness nominee Anthony Kurta confirmed that the Department of Defense needs to be able to recruit Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who can provide medical, foreign language and other specialized skills. Mr. Kurta also said he sees a future where the Department should continue recruiting DACA recipients.

Senator Heinrich also highlighted the need to address the Air Force shortage of maintainers and technicians, and received a commitment from Mr. Kurta to support a long-term solution that engages high schools and universities to help initiate teaching and training in the field. Senator Heinrich has worked to welcome two additional F-16 squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base and has sought creative solutions to help address the Air Force’s technician shortage. 

Testimony, a list of witnesses, and the entire webcast of today's hearing will be available here.