Austin wins Senate confirmation as 1st Black Pentagon chief

Secdef Lloyd Austin

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lloyd J. Austin, the West Point graduate who rose to the Army’s elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, has won Senate confirmation to become the nation’s first Black secretary of defense.

The vote gives President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Biden is expected to win approval for others on his national security team in coming days, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among the senators who voted to confirm Austin. Rounds also supported a waiver for the nominee, which is necessary because he is not yet seven years removed from military service. Austin was confirmed by a vote of 93-2.

“Mr. Austin will make an excellent Secretary of Defense,” said Rounds. “He has earned praise from his colleagues throughout his military career, from the time he entered the Army in 1975 to working his way up to become a four-star general. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I look forward to working with Mr. Austin on continuing to strengthen our national defense, especially in the cyber realm. We will also be working closely with him as we bring the next-generation B-21 Raider bombers to Ellsworth Air Force Base in the near future.”

Austin served 41 years in the Army, retiring in 2016.

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