WASHINGTON — US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is warning the new administration that unless it acts, an agency managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile will go leaderless after Friday’s inauguration.
Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, sent President-elect Donald Trump a letter Tuesday urging him to keep senior officials in sensitive national security posts — including National Nuclear Security Administration leaders — until their replacements are in place.
Heinrich noted only six of 58 presidentially appointed Pentagon officials are known to have been asked to stay in their positions through the transition process. Also, the NNSA leads, retired Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon, have not been asked to stay on, he said.
“This will be the first time in NNSA’s 16-year history, through four different administrations, in which there will not be any continuity in leadership during a presidential transition,” Heinrich said in the letter. He added, “We simply cannot afford to allow national security positions to effectively run on ‘auto-pilot.’ The responsibilities are too important.”
Political appointees of an outgoing presidential administration are typically asked to resign when a new president is elected, but appointees in key positions are often asked to stay until a new president can replace or choose to keep them.
“I have sat down with the general [Klotz] and had a good conversation with him, and have sent the message that it would certainly be my desire to have that continuity,” Perry said. “It is in the president-elect’s office now and hopefully we will see that type of continuity in those very important places.”
“The president-elect understands how it is important to ensure the continuity of government,” Spicer said.
He did not mention the NNSA, and the transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.