April 5, 2017

Senate panel moves Wilson confirmation to floor

Screenshot from video

Heather Wilson at her nomination hearing for U.S. Air Force Secretary in front of the Senate Armed Forces committee.

Heather Wilson’s bid to become the Secretary of the Air Force took a big step forward when her nomination cleared the Senate Armed Forces Committee on a 22-5 vote Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich sits on the committee and voted in favor of advancing her nomination. That was no surprise, as during questioning, Heinrich referred to her “impressive qualifications.”

Wilson is a former congresswoman from New Mexico, representing the Albuquerque area for a decade. Wilson is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and served in the U.S. Air Force.

Related: Senators question Wilson on past controversies at confirmation hearing

She also faced Heinrich in the 2012 U.S. Senate race and lost by 6 percent.

She is currently president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Wilson’s nomination now heads to the full Senate, where a confirmation on a wide bipartisan basis seems likely based on the committee vote.

At the committee hearing, Wilson had to answer questions about past controversies, largely surrounding her post-congressional work as a consultant.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, asked about her time as a private contractor for national laboratories and aiding in lobbying for Lockheed Martin, a key weapons contractor.

A federal investigation found wrongdoing by Sandia National Laboratories for paying WIlson for some services barred by federal law. Wilson was not faulted for the problems, but contractors repaid the government $442,000.

Wilson was also asked about her role in the George W. Bush U.S. Attorneys scandal. She allegedly pressured David Iglesias on a corruption investigation involving Manny Aragon, a former state Senate leader.

Correction: This story originally said Heather Wilson repaid the federal government. It was contractors that repaid the money.