The US Senate has confirmed Joe Biden’s nominee, Lloyd Austin, to serve as secretary of defense, making the retired army general the first African American to lead the Pentagon.
The final vote was 93 to 2, with only two Senate Republicans – Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri – opposing Austin’s nomination.
Austin, 67, will oversee the 1.3 million active duty men and women who make up the nation’s military. He is the second of Biden’s cabinet nominees to be confirmed, after Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, was confirmed on Wednesday and sworn in by Vice-President Kamala Harris on Thursday.
“In my judgment, there is no question that he is the right person for this job at the right moment, leading the Department of Defense at this moment in our nation’s history,” Biden said as he announced his nomination of Austin for the role last month. He called Austin the “definition of duty, honor and country” and a leader “feared by our adversaries, known and respected by our allies”.
The confirmation comes one day after the House and the Senate passed a waiver to allow Austin to be confirmed. Because Austin retired from the military less than seven years ago, he needed a waiver before the Senate could confirm him.
More details soon …