Senate Confirms Lloyd Austin As America’s First Black Pentagon Chief
Retired army general Lloyd Austin his become the first African American ever to lead the Pentagon, after the US Senate today confirmed his appointment as Secretary of Defense.
President Biden’s pick for the top Pentagon role was confirmed in a 93-2 vote, with Republicans Mike Lee and Josh Hawley the only members to oppose the nomination.
Austin, 67, retired as a four-star Army General in 2016, having previously served under President Obama as the Commander of the United States Central Command. His confirmation as Secretary of Defense comes a day after the Senate Armed Services Committee granted a rare and controversial waiver to a law that requires nominees to the position to have been retired from active duty for at least seven years, The Guardian reports.
Austin, who was the first African American to command an infantry division in combat, and the first to be Vice Chief of the Army, is only the third Secretary of Defense to require a waiver, following George Marshal in 1950 and James Mattis in 2017, with the delay caused by the waiver process making President Biden only the second president in American history to start his term without his Pentagon chief in place.
In a video posted to Twitter last week ahead of his confirmation , Austin said:
There is kind of a sad commentary here and that is, it shouldn’t have taken us that long to get here. There should have been someone who proceeded me.
I am enormously grateful for the service and the sacrifices of those that went before me…it’s on their shoulders that I stand here today. My goal is to not be the last.
Among other measures expected to be brought in by the new administration, Lloyd Austin will notably oversee a move to restore the right of transgender Americans to serve in the US military, with President Biden set to overturn an executive order signed by President Trump banning transgender service personnel in 2017.
Austin is the second member of President Biden’s cabinet to be confirmed following his inauguration on January 20, after Avril Haines was sworn in as Director of National Intelligence by Kamala Harris on Thursday (January 21).
Delays to the confirmation process for Biden’s nominees meant for the first time ever a President was inaugurated without a single member of his cabinet in place, and Austin’s confirmation process is one of a number that have been sped up in an attempt to ensure crucial members of the new cabinet, especially those working on matters of national security, are in place as soon as possible.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read