The US Senate confirmed retired General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense on Friday, making him the first black person to hold the post.
Mr Austin, who was confirmed in a 93-2 vote, is the second of President Joe Biden’s cabinet officials to be confirmed. April HainesMr. Biden’s new director of national intelligence was confirmed earlier this week.
Mr. Austin’s military career has seen him serve for more than 40 years in the United States military, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the only African-American to have led the United States Central Command, a combatant command that oversees military operations across the Middle East.
the military career of the former four-star general asked him to obtain a special waiver from Congress to allow him to serve in the leading position of the Pentagon, a role that is intended to be occupied by a civilian. A waiver is required for the appointment of any member who has not served for less than seven years.
Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, described Mr. Austin as “a pioneer, who once again made history”, praising his “ability, integrity and dynamic leadership” .
He added: “Our army reflects society. Today we celebrate progress while recognizing that we have a long way to go. “
A third cabinet pick, Janet Yellen, is expected to be confirmed as early as Friday evening after her appointment was unanimously advanced by the Senate finance committee. Ms. Yellen’s credentials and history at the Fed made her a familiar face on Capitol Hill. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to hold the post.
Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on Senate finances, said that while he supports his nomination, he “has not supported some of what I believe is Dr Yellen’s political agenda.”
He added that he hoped Ms Yellen would continue to work with “both sides of the aisle” when it came to policy making.
During her confirmation hearing earlier this week, Ms Yellen pleaded for quick approval of the $ 1.9 billion economic relief package proposed by Mr Biden, saying deficit concerns should take a back seat given the patchy and difficult recovery.