JUST IN: Senate Confirms Lloyd Austin as First Black Secretary of Defense (VIDEO)
In a nearly unanimous vote, the Senate has confirmed retired General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense.
Austin’s nomination cleared the Senate by a vote of 93-2 — with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) as the only dissenters. The retired general will be the first Black Secretary of Defense in American history.
The confirmation figured to be a formality after both houses of Congress approved a waiver allowing Austin to be named to the post. The waiver was necessary because it has been less than seven years since Austin last served in the military — a rule meant to keep the military under civilian control.
“I understand and respect the reservations some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense,” Austin said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday — referencing retired Gen. James Mattis, who also received a waiver. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil.”
There had been some pushback to Austin’s nomination initially — with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) being among those who said they would not vote for the retired general’s confirmation. But Blumenthal did not stand in the way on Friday, and Austin’s nomination sailed through.
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