US retired general, Lloyd Austin has been confirmed as the country’s secretary of defence , becoming the second cabinet nominee of new President Joe Biden to get approval and the first African American to lead the Pentagon.
The Senate on Friday approved President Biden’s nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93 to 2 vote in Austin’s favour.
The retired four-star general received overwhelming support from both Biden’s Democrats and opposition Republicans, even though his confirmation was complicated by his status as a recently retired general and required a waiver of a legal prohibition on a military officer serving as secretary of defense within seven years of retirement.
The House and the Senate approved the waiver on Thursday, clearing the way for the Senate confirmation vote.
“The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces. The subordination of military power to the civil,” Austin, 67, said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
He also tweeted a statement after gaining Senate approval.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position,” he wrote. “Let’s get to work.”
It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position. Let’s get to work. pic.twitter.com/qPAzVRxz9L
— Lloyd Austin (@LloydAustin) January 22, 2021
Austin retired in 2016 after serving as the first Black general to head U.S. Central Command. He was the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army in 2012 and also served as director of the Joint Staff.