First congressional Democrat calls for Austin's resignation

By Tony Bertuca / January 10, 2024 at 4:26 PM

Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA) became the first congressional Democrat to call for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's resignation today over his failure to notify the White House and Congress for days following his Jan. 1 hospitalization.

DeLuzio, who represents a swing district, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee where Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) has stopped short of calling for Austin’s resignation but has launched a formal inquiry into the controversy surrounding his absence.

“I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command,” Deluzio said in a statement. “I have a solemn duty in Congress to conduct oversight of the Defense Department through my service on the House Armed Services Committee. That duty today requires me to call on Secretary Austin to resign.”

Austin has been hospitalized since Jan. 1 with complications from a urinary tract infection following a Dec. 22 prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has said President Biden continues to have full confidence in Austin and would not accept his resignation if he offered it.

Deluzio, whose statement was first reported by Politico, thanked Austin for “his leadership and years of dedicated service” and wished him a speedy recovery.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, released a statement today saying Austin is “in good condition” at Walter Reed Medical Center and is in contact with his senior staff, also having received an operational update from U.S. Central Command.

Ryder said the Pentagon does not yet have a specific date for Austin’s release from the hospital but committed to providing daily updates.