- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

The House is expected to vote Thursday on whether to grant President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Defense, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, a waiver to serve as Pentagon chief. 

Mr. Austin is required to obtain a congressional waiver to serve in the role because of a rule that requires military officers to wait at least seven years after active duty service until they can serve in the top civilian post. 

Former President Trump’s first Defense Secretary pick, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, was granted such a waiver by Congress. 

If granted the waiver and confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Austin would be the first African American to serve as Defense Secretary. 

During his nomination hearing Tuesday, Gen. Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee that once confirmed, he “will quickly review the [Department of Defense’s] contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness.”

Amid several questions from senators of both parties, the retired four-star general insisted he could separate his more than 40 years of military service with his new job and role as a political appointee. 

“I understand and respect the reservations that some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense,” Mr. Austin said. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil.”

It is believed Mr. Austin will receive enough support to obtain the necessary waiver. 

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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