President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Congress to grant his newly announced pick for secretary of defense, the retired general Lloyd Austin, the same waiver they did to allow former U.S. Marine commander Jim Mattis to take up the post amid bipartisan opposition to confirming yet another recently retired general.
Austin, who retired in 2016 as a 4-star general, would be the first African-American to lead the Pentagon, but it would require Congress to grant a waiver from a law that bars officers from being appointed secretary of defense within seven years of active duty.
"I hope Congress will grant a waiver to Secretary-designate Austin just as Congress did for Secretary Jim Mattis," Biden wrote in an article for The Atlantic, citing the “immense and urgent threats and challenges our nation faces” as the basis for a swift confirmation.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who voted against granting the waiver to Mattis, Trump’s first defense secretary – told Politico he would oppose a waiver because civilian control of the military is “essential to our democracy.”