Helms Nomination Still on Hold

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has yet to lift the hold on the nomination of 14th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Susan Helms to be vice commander of Air Force Space Command, according to the senator’s spokesman. President Obama nominated Helms for the position in March. However, McCaskill subsequently announced that she would object to any request for unanimous consent to approve Helms’ nomination after learning that Helms, while serving as a court-martial convening authority, chose to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict in a sexual assault case. Drew Pusateri of McCaskill’s office told the Daily Report on Sept. 11 that the senator spoke with Helms about Helms’ decision and that McCaskill then reiterated her concerns to the Air Force earlier this summer. “Lieutenant General Helms has a record of more than 30 years of distinguished military service, in which she became the first American military woman in space, among other significant achievements,” said McCaskill in a statement in early June articulating her position. However, she continued, “I continue to have deep concerns” with Helms’ decision. McCaskill claimed that Helms’ decision “sent a damaging message to survivors of sexual assault who are seeking justice in the military justice system.”