updated 2/9/2009 8:28:58 PM ET 2009-02-10T01:28:58

The Senate was expected to confirm William Lynn as deputy defense secretary on Tuesday, in a vote that would allow President Barack Obama to circumvent his own ethics rules by putting a former high-powered defense lobbyist in charge of day-to-day operations at the Pentagon.

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Democratic leaders scheduled the vote after it became clear that Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley would not try to block the nomination.

Grassley previously accused Lynn of shoddy budget practices while working as Pentagon comptroller during the Clinton administration. Grassley also has raised concerns about Lynn's lobbying ties.

Grassley's spokeswoman, Beth Levine, said late Monday that the senator still has concerns about Lynn's work at the Defense Department in the 1990s. She said he planned to outline those concerns during the debate on Tuesday but was not expected to object to a vote.

The nomination was expected to be cleared by unanimous consent and without a roll call vote.

Lynn's work as a lobbyist for Raytheon — the company attracted more than $18 billion in government business in 2007 — would have excluded him from consideration for the senior post under Obama's ethics requirements. The rules bar people for two years from working for the agencies they lobbied.

But administration officials said Lynn was uniquely qualified for the No. 2 job at the Pentagon and issued a waiver, which they said was in the interest of national security.

In letters to Congress, Lynn said he lobbied Congress in 2007 and 2008 on "only a handful" of programs: the DDG-1000 surface combatant, the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, the F-15 airborne radar, the Army Patriot "Pure Fleet" program, the Future Imagery Architecture system and the multiple kill vehicle.

Lynn has promised to recuse himself from decisions involving these programs for one year. He also has promised for one year to seek written permission from Pentagon lawyers when "circumstances would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question my impartiality," according to a Jan. 28 letter from Lynn to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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