Senate Confirms Austin in Historic Vote, Installing First Black Defense Secretary
Added 01-22-21 01:40:02pm EST - “The former general was approved overwhelmingly, after Congress granted him a waiver from a law that bars anyone who has been retired from active-duty military service for fewer than seven years from leading the Pentagon.” - Nytimes.com
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The former general was approved overwhelmingly, after Congress granted him a waiver from a law that bars anyone who has been retired from active-duty military service for fewer than seven years from leading the Pentagon.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Friday confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as defense secretary, filling a critical national security position in President Biden’s cabinet and elevating the first Black American in the country’s history to lead the Pentagon.
The 93-to-2 vote came a day after Congress swiftly moved to grant Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general, a special waiver to hold the post, which is required for any defense secretary who has been out of active-duty military service for fewer than seven years. It reflected a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that it was urgent for Mr. Biden to have his Pentagon pick installed, a step normally taken on a new president’s first day.
“It’s an extraordinary, historic moment,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and the incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “A significant portion of our armed forces today are African-Americans or Latinos, and now they can see themselves at the very top of the Department of Defense, which makes real the notion of opportunity.”
Mr. Austin, 67, is the only African-American to have led the United States Central Command, the military’s marquee combat command, with responsibility for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. He retired in 2016 after 41 years in the military, and is widely respected across the Army.
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