More Democrats are saying they will vote against a necessary waiver for Joe Biden’s secretary of defense nominee to serve in the position.
US law mandates that a secretary of defense must not have served in the military for at least seven years. Biden’s nominee, Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, retired from the Army in 2016, so he must be granted a waiver by Congress.
Several Democratic senators have spoken out against the waiver, including Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The issue the Democrats have with Austin’s appointment is that it could lessen civilian control of the US military. Some in Congress are also hesitant because the last waiver was granted so recently and fear it could set a dangerous precedent. In 2017, Congress voted in favor of a waiver for James Mattis. Before Mattis, the last waiver was granted to George Marshall in 1950.
With opposition from Democrats, Austin needs support from the GOP to secure his position as Pentagon chief. But Republicans in both the House and the Senate aren’t keen on Austin due to his lack of experience with China. Republican China hawks in the Senate are expected to grill Biden’s nominees on Beijing during confirmation hearings.