Lloyd Austin wins Senate backing, becomes first Black Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin wins Senate backing, becomes first Black Pentagon chief

Fourteen Senate Democrats voted against a waiver for Austin, and 13 Senate Republicans voted against the waiver, as Breitbart News reported Thursday.

In a 69-27 vote, the Senate removed the final obstacle before the upper chamber votes on Austin's actual confirmation. The only senators who voted against Mr. Austin were Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Many of the House Democrats who voted for the waiver opposed a waiver for President Trump's first Pentagon chief pick, retired Marine General Jim Mattis.

"In my judgment, there is no question that he is the right person for this job at the right moment, leading the Department of Defense at this moment in our nation's history", Biden said as he announced his nomination of Austin for the role last month.

"I think China is. our most significant challenge going forward", Austin said Tuesday, while referring to Iran as a "destabilizing force" in the Middle East.

Austin led the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, then the 10th Mountain Division, and later the XVIII Airborne Corps, commanding troops in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"General Austin is an exceptionally qualified leader with a long and distinguished career in the USA military", Reed said before the vote.

The Pentagon said that after being sworn in and getting an intelligence briefing, Austin would hold a meeting on COVID-19 with senior civilian and military officials.

Austin left the military four years ago and now serves on the board of weapons maker Raytheon; normally a minimum of seven years is required before taking the civilian job - unless a waiver is granted from both houses of Congress. You can expect that mission to continue.

On Friday afternoon, Austin sent out a day-one message to the force.

Another challenge facing the new defense secretary are concerns of extremism within the ranks of the military. He served as commander of the theater from 2013-2016, making him the first Black general to hold the post. "But we must help the federal government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus".

Lawmakers in both parties initially were uneasy at the prospect of granting Austin an exception to the statutory bar against recently retired military personnel serving as Pentagon chiefs, a law meant to maintain civilian control of the military. He told lawmakers that he did not believe two additional years outside of uniform would change the way he thought about military and national security issues.

"I have no doubt that civilian control of the military will be completely upheld by Secretary-designate Austin when he is our Secretary of Defense", he wrote.

"I am honoured to have this chance to serve again and to do so alongside you and your families".

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