by By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and CHARLIE SAVAGE with The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Eric K. Fanning on Tuesday as secretary of the Army, making him the highest-ranking openly gay official ever at the Pentagon.
The voice vote ended a confirmation process that had been delayed for months by a Republican senator who wanted assurances that detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would not be sent to his state.
But as the senator, Pat Roberts of Kansas, explained how his concerns had been resolved, one of his statements indicated that the administration does not believe it will be able to close the prison before President Obama leaves office.
Mr. Roberts said on the Senate floor that he had been assured last week by the deputy defense secretary, Robert O. Work, that Mr. Obama would not move Guantánamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., because “the clock has run out.”
In a statement, Mr. Work said he had made clear to Mr. Roberts that “we have not taken any location off the table for relocating Guantánamo detainees.” Still, Mr. Work acknowledged that there was “limited time left” to gain Congress’s support for the administration’s plan to close the prison.
There have been signs that time is short. The administration said in February that every potential site the government had studied for housing Guantánamo detainees would need substantial construction work. No contracts have been put out in the three months since then, because Congress has banned bringing detainees into the United States or spending any money to modify a prison to accommodate them.
Mr. Fanning, 47, has held high-ranking posts across the armed services, including as Air Force under secretary and deputy under secretary of the Navy. He has also served as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.