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World

U.S. Senate confirms Biden nominee Austin as defense secretary

  • The vote was 93-2 in the 100-member chamber, far more than the simple majority needed.
23 Jan 2021

The U.S. Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly to confirm retired Army General Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s defense secretary, making him the first Black American to serve in the role.

The vote was 93-2 in the 100-member chamber, far more than the simple majority needed.

Lawmakers from both parties said they were pleased that Austin would be installed to lead the Pentagon just two days after Biden was sworn in as president.

After a smooth transition to Biden’s new administration was impeded by former Republican President Donald Trump’s insistence that he had won the Nov. 3 election, Biden’s fellow Democrats - and some Republicans - have been pushing to confirm the new president’s national security team as quickly as possible.

Senator Jack Reed, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, noted the wide range of challenges facing the country - including the coronavirus pandemic and competition with China and Russia.

“General Austin is an exceptionally qualified leader with a long and distinguished career in the U.S. military,” Reed said before the vote.

“We have China and Russia out there with capabilities that we didn’t really believe we would find ourselves with,” said Senator James Inhofe, the outgoing Republican chairman of the armed services panel, also urging support for Austin.

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