Tags: Biden Administration | cotton | biden | general austin | defense

Cotton Opposes Waiver to Allow Biden's Defense Nominee

llyod austin sits in confirmation hearing
President Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee at the U.S. Capitol on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:56 AM

Sen. Tom Cotton voted in favor of a waiver to allow former Secretary of Defense James Mattis to be confirmed but said Thursday he now thinks that was a mistake and he is not in favor of a similar waiver for President Joe Biden's nominee, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin.

"I respect Lloyd Austin and the four decades of service in his uniform," the Arkansas Republican said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "There are sound reasons we have that cooling-off period. We don't want to give the perception to general officers if they play their cards right they can be a Secretary of Defense in the future. We don't want to create the perception that a recently retired officer is going to play favorites."

According to federal law, a nominee must have been retired for seven years before becoming Secretary of Defense, unless he or she is granted a waiver by the House and Senate, reports The New York Times. Mattis, a retired Marine general, had bipartisan support leading to his being granted the waiver, but with Austin, some lawmakers are balking at approving another such waiver so soon. 

Austin served in the U.S. Army until 2016. 

Cotton also said that while generals are expected to be apolitical, the job heading Defense is "a political job, not a partisan job."

"Bob Gates, the best Secretary of Defense in modern times, served in both Republican and Democrat administrations," said Cotton. "He was a very skilled political leader for the troops fighting battles within the cabinet to make sure they got the money and resources they need or against the entrenched Pentagon bureaucracy."

The secretary must also have the political experience and skills to be an advocate "against the liberal policies that other cabinet secretaries are pushing or others in Congress," Cotton argued. "This doesn't reflect my opinion of Lloyd Austin's service in the military for 40 years ... Frankly, it was a mistake in 1950 when we granted a waiver to Gen. (George) Marshall as well. I don't think Congress should repeat that mistake anymore."

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Politics
Sen. Tom Cotton voted in favor of a waiver to allow former Secretary of Defense James Mattis to be confirmed but said Thursday he now thinks that was a mistake and he is not in favor of a similar waiver for President Joe Biden's...
cotton, biden, general austin, defense
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2021-56-21
Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:56 AM
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