WASHINGTON– The Senate on Friday voted extremely to validate the first Black secretary of defense, retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who first needed Congress to approve a waiver for him to fill the Cabinet position.
Legislators voted 93 -2 in a last floor vote. 2 Republicans, Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah, were the only members to vote no.
President Joe Biden’s election of Austin, 67, bothered some Democrats because his retirement from the military happened less than 7 years earlier, the minimum time period a civilian is required to wait to lead the Defense Department. Austin retired in 2016.
Your Home and Senate quickly authorized the waiver for Austin on Thursday. Only 2 other nominees have been approved such a waiver: George C. Marshall, in the Truman administration, and James Mattis, in the Trump administration.
Austin, who served in the Army for more than 4 decades, was leader of U.S. Central Command from 2013 to 2016 under President Barack Obama, leading the U.S. military’s technique in the Middle East and Central and South Asia.
Austin is the second Biden nominee to be confirmed since the president’s inauguration on Wednesday. The Senate validated Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence that day.
In testimony at his confirmation hearing this week, Austin said that the “most instant” obstacle dealing with the U.S. is the coronavirus pandemic. He stated that he would “battle difficult” to “rid our ranks of racists and extremists.” Austin likewise said he would reverse the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military service, which Trump first bought by tweet in 2017.
Biden wrote in an essay for The Atlantic magazine in December that he and Austin “share a commitment to empowering our diplomats and development experts to lead our foreign policy, utilizing force only as our last resort.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., voted to confirm Austin however stated he opposed the waiver due to the fact that he believes it’s a “bad idea” to consistently break the military-civilian separation standard. He said Mattis’ waiver was an “extraordinary” circumstance because he was “uniquely located” to assist the Trump administration navigate the obstacles at the time.
” Group Biden is going to have an entire lot of skilled people,” Sasse said Thursday.
The Senate is expected to vote soon on the elections of Antony Blinken for secretary of state and Janet Yellen for treasury secretary. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously reported Yellen’s nomination to the flooring Friday early morning in a 26 -0 vote. Senate Bulk Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated a vote on Yellen’s nomination is arranged for 5: 30 p.m. ET Monday.
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional press reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.
Dareh Gregorian and Sahil Kapur