Lloyd Austin confirmed as 1st Black Pentagon chief

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived at the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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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.”

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.

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