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EXISTING GRAPHICS MAY BE OVERWRITTEN BY CLIENT'S OWN GRAPHICS BUT NO FURTHER EDITS ARE PERMITTED, INCLUDING FOR LENGTH** U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he has 'absolute confidence' in his new Defense chief Mark Esper during Esper's welcome ceremony at the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, Army Secretary Mark Esper was sworn in as U.S. secretary of defense after being confirmed by the Senate on a vote of 90-8, a strong bipartisan vote that ended the longest period by far the Pentagon had been without a permanent top official.
Esper, 55, a former soldier and lobbyist for weapons maker Raytheon Co, received strong bipartisan support despite 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.
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.
An Army veteran, Esper served as a congressional aide and a Pentagon official under Republican President George W.
Bush before working for Raytheon.
He had been Army secretary since November 2017.