Lloyd Austin confirmed as Secretary of Defense, becomes first Black Pentagon chief
The Senate voted Friday (Jan. 22) to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden's choice for defense secretary.
General Austin, the first Black man to run the department, retired in 2016 and had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job. The House approved the waiver Thursday afternoon, followed by Senate approval of the measure, CNN reports.
Thursday's votes cleared the way for final confirmation in the Senate. Friday's vote was 93-2. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri were the only two no votes.
In the run-up to his confirmation vote, Austin had to overcome objections from some lawmakers to allowing a recently retired general to assume the top civilian post at the Pentagon.
He addressed those concerns directly at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, saying, "If confirmed, I will carry out the mission of the Department of Defense, always with the goal to deter war and ensure our nation's security, and I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended."
"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," he said at the hearing. "The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil."