Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) In an April 2, 2019, file photo, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper speaks during a House Armed Services Committee budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump on June 18, named Esper as acting Defense Secretary. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist Mark Esper as secretary of defense. Esper’s confirmation ends a stretch of seven months the Pentagon didn’t have a permanent leader. Esper won Senate confirmation on Tuesday by a vote of 90-8 and is to be sworn in by day’s end. The Pentagon had been without a permanent boss since Jim Mattis stepped down last New Year’s Eve. Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan became the acting secretary, but after six months as the fill-in the former Boeing executive abruptly quit. Esper then became the acting secretary, but once he was nominated last week he had to step aside until a Senate vote. For the past week the Pentagon has been run by yet another fill-in, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer.