Biden’s defense secretary addressed those concerns directly at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon, stating, “If confirmed, I would like the mission of the Department of Defense to always prevent war and ensure the security of our country I will carry on with the goal, and I will uphold the Army’s principle of civilian control, as intended. “
Austin, who retired in 2016, is reaching out to top House and Senate lawmakers who would have to agree to pass legislation to grant amnesty, something only given twice in history, including the president in 2017. James Mattis was also involved in running Donald Trump’s Pentagon. .
He said during the hearing, “I understand and respect some reservations, having recently retired as head of the Department of Defense.” “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, subordination of military power to civilian.”
Austin said, “I spent my entire life committed to that principle. By war and peace I elected and implemented the policies of the citizens appointed over me, leaders like Secretary (Leon) Panetta. I know that being a member Nate. The President’s Cabinet – a political appointment – requires a different approach and unique duties in a similar career. “
Another obstacle that could slow down the confirmation process for Austin is that, in effect, there would be two votes to win: one to exempt from both chambers of Congress, and another from the Senate to confirm his position. for. The House is set to vote for amnesty on Thursday.
During his Tuesday hearing, Austin resolved to fight to rid the Department of Defense of “racists and extremists”.
“We set out to give our people a working environment free of discrimination, hatred and harassment. If confirmed, I will fight hard to stop sexual harassment and get rid of racists and extremists.”
Austin said, “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies.” “But we cannot do that if some of those enemies are within our own ranks.”
Austin’s testimony will not be held in front of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, because it was planned to “discuss military control in a planned manner” in favor of a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, according to the panel’s aide.
The reason for the change, the aide told CNN on Tuesday, is that the House Armed Services Committee will not be formed for the new Congress in time.
“The committee cannot formally hold until the leadership of both the majority and the minority has named the full list of members. It has become clear that to discuss civilian control of the military with the post of secretary Full committee membership will not be finalized before Thursday’s scheduled hearing for “Lloyd Austin,” committee aide Monica Matoush said Tuesday. “As such, we cannot yet conduct the business of the committee like a meeting of our committee organization or formally a hearing. Once the members have been named and the committee has been organized, we will move forward. “
The closed meeting with House lawmakers could help speed up Austin’s nomination, but also put those at risk who wanted to hear him before he could testify.
Austin has told the rep. Washington State Democrat Chairman Adam Smith has told the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee that he is ready to answer questions and testify publicly about the amnesty to reassure lawmakers about their faith in civilian control. Will give
Smith has consistently voiced support for Austin, but also said he would like him to testify.
Michael Conte of CNN contributed to this report.