(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., threatened to place a hold on the re-nomination of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a second term, a spokesperson to McCain confirmed to ABC News Thursday.
“Actually, I’m putting a hold on General Dempsey until General Dempsey responds to the legitimate questions that he committed to do,” McCain told reporters after a Senate Armed Services hearing with Dempsey on Thursday.
McCain, who backs military intervention in Syria, engaged in a testy exchange with Dempsey as the Arizona senator asked Dempsey whether the U.S. military should intervene in Syria.
“I’ve given those views to the president. We’ve given him options. The members of this committee have been briefed on them in a classified setting. We’ve articulated the risk. The decision to use force is the decision of our elected officials,” Dempsey said.
“The chairman just asked you if you would give your personal opinion to the committee if asked. You said yes. I’m asking for your opinion,” McCain responded.
“That issue is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government, and it would be inappropriate for me to try to influence the decision with me rendering an opinion in public about what kind of force we should use,” Dempsey said. “I will … let this committee know what my recommendations are at the appropriate time.”
“Well, if it is your position that you do not provide your personal views to the committee when asked, only under certain circumstances, then you have just contradicted what I have known this committee to operate under for the last 30 years,” McCain said.
Earlier in the week, McCain was one of the key Republican negotiators that prevented Democrats from using the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate filibuster rules.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Heather Long, CNN