UPDATED 4:00 PM PT – Friday, January 22, 2021
The upper chamber approved Joe Biden’s nominee for defense secretary, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, in a 93-2 vote on Friday.
The retired four-star general was approved despite both sides of the aisle expressing concern he did not meet a specific requirement. Under a 1947 act, no one may be appointed secretary of defense within seven years of serving as a commissioned officer.
Despite this, lawmakers moved forward with his approval.
“So nevertheless, I’ll vote today to confirm a clear patriot with an impressive career,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “But I’ll cast that vote with the understanding that our new secretary of defense specifically commits to balancing civil-military relations, empowering civilian leaders at the Pentagon and playing an active role in the inherently political budget process to get our forces what they need.”
It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position. Let’s get to work. pic.twitter.com/qPAzVRxz9L
— Lloyd Austin (@LloydAustin) January 22, 2021
Despite his experience in leading operations in the Middle East, some lawmakers have questioned Austin’s readiness to tackle other global threats in China and Iran.