Lawrence Jackson  /  AP file
Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche, shown in a  March 26, 2003, file photo, has withdrawn his nomination to be secretary of the Army.
updated 3/10/2004 2:39:33 PM ET 2004-03-10T19:39:33

Air Force Secretary James G. Roche asked President Bush on Wednesday to withdraw his nomination to be secretary of the Army.

Roche’s nomination had been stalled in the Senate Armed Services Committee since last July, primarily by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was upset with an airtanker leasing arrangement supported by Roche.

The committee also is waiting for an inspector general review of how Air Force leadership, including Roche, responded to allegations of rape and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy.

Army Undersecretary Les Brownlee has been serving as the interim secretary.

“Given the range of issues before the Senate in a busy legislative year, I accept that my nomination is unlikely to be considered this year,” Roche said in a statement. “In the interest of the Department of Defense, I decided it was best that I withdraw from further consideration.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that Roche would have been “a first-rate secretary of the Army,” and that he looked forward to his continued service as Air Force secretary.

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