Austin's nomination hearing slated for Jan. 19

By Tony Bertuca / January 7, 2021 at 4:27 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee said today it will hold a hearing Jan. 19 to consider the nomination of retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President-elect Biden's defense secretary.

Austin must be confirmed by the full Senate, but he also requires a congressional waiver because he has been retired from the military for fewer than eight years. The waiver was approved for retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis to become defense secretary in 2017, the first time in nearly 70 years.

If confirmed, Austin would be the nation's first black defense secretary.

Since retiring from the military in 2016, Austin has been a board member at Raytheon Technologies and several other companies.

His nomination has sparked concern about civilian control of the U.S. military. The committee intends to hold a Jan. 12 hearing with outside experts to discuss civilian control of the military and potential issues posed by Austin's nomination. A similar hearing was held related to Mattis' nomination.

Austin, meanwhile, has pledged to run the Defense Department as a civilian, not a general.

"I come to this role now as a civilian leader -- with military experience to be sure -- but also with a deep appreciation and reverence for the prevailing wisdom of civilian control of our military," he said in December.