WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as the next Pentagon chief Friday, making him the nation’s first Black Defense secretary.
The Senate voted 93 to 2 to confirm Austin.
Austin’s confirmation follows Wednesday’s Senate confirmation of Avril Haines, who became the first woman to the lead nation’s 18 intelligence agencies as the director of national intelligence.
In back-to-back votes Thursday, the House and Senate passed legislation granting Austin, a retired four-star Army general, a waiver to lead the Pentagon. The Senate approved Austin’s waiver by a vote of 69-27 and the House approved the waiver by a vote of 326 to 78.
Under the National Security Act of 1947, Congress has prohibited any individual from serving as secretary of Defense within seven years of active-duty service. Austin left the Army in 2016 and therefore required a special congressional waiver in order to bypass the seven-year rule.