Alabama lawmakers praise President-elect Biden’s Pentagon pick

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 12:13 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Born in Mobile, AL and potentially heading to the Pentagon, Four-Star General Lloyd Austin is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Defense. It is a pick that has the support of Alabama lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

The retired general would be the first African American to lead the Department of Defense. The Alabama native is being praised for his extensive military background.

“It’ll be good for us to have a hometown fella, gentleman if you will, that is in that position that we can call if need be,” said Rep.-elect Barry Moore (R-AL).

Moore, a veteran, is entering his first term in Congress in January. He says Austin is a good fit to lead the Pentagon. Austin led U.S. Central Command until his retirement in 2015. Moore thinks it is helpful having someone with recent military experience lead the Defense Department.

“It’s good to have somebody new come in there but has recently experienced what it’s like in the real world, because inside that bubble in D.C. oftentimes they don’t know what the real world is all about,” said Moore.

Federal law requires the head of the Pentagon to live as a civilian for seven years before becoming Defense Secretary. Austin does not meet that requirement and would need a waiver from Congress to serve in that post. Some lawmakers are expressing concerns over his appointment, like Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who says, in part, “The job of secretary of defense is purpose-built to ensure civilian oversight of the military.”

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) says she will happily vote to give Austin a waiver.

“(Austin is) a long-standing, great career in the Army as a 4-Star General who has earned this title and the opportunity to serve in this way,” said Sewell.

With vital military installations in Alabama like the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Sewell agrees his connections to the state and national credentials are perfectly suited for Alabamians and the rest of the country.

“I’m very proud of this Alabama native and he would do well to serve this country, yet again, as its first African American Secretary of Defense,” said Sewell.

The votes on granting Austin a waiver and confirming him to the position will happen in the new year - also a new Congress.

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