The White House announced on Friday night that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the next Secretary of Defense.
The announcement comes just days after President Donald Trump tweeted that Esper would be Acting Defense Secretary, as Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination. Esper officially takes over as Acting SecDef on Monday, June 24th.
The White House also announced on Friday that Trump intends to nominate David Norquist as Deputy Secretary of Defense (a role he's been serving in for the last several months), and Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy to become Secretary of the Army. These are not official nominations — and as we saw with Shanahan, an intent to nominate doesn't necessarily mean a nomination is close behind — but the process already appears to be moving quicker than it did with Shanahan.
Because of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, once Esper is nominated he will have to step aside as the acting secretary while his nomination is being considered; Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will likely take over as the acting secretary. McCarthy, however, will be able to serve as the acting Army secretary while his nomination is underway.
Also under the FVRA, there is a 210-day limit for a position to be filled by someone in an acting capacity, and that time limit expires on July 30th for the defense secretary role. However, the countdown is paused once an official nomination reaches the senate. The senate then has to wait seven days before taking up the nomination for discussion.