Congress set for quick action on defense nominee

The Democratic-controlled House easily passed legislation required to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defense, brushing aside concerns over how long he's been out of the military. (Jan. 21)

Video Transcript

- On this vote, on this vote, the yeas are 326, the nays are 78. The bill is passed. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

ADAM SMITH: And this law still matters because without this law, we wouldn't have this process. We would not have the opportunity to question Mr. Austin in advance of his confirmation in the Senate. So the law has upheld its meaning and its role to maintain civilian control of the military by forcing this conversation. I urge all members to vote in favor of the waiver for Lloyd Austin.

MIKE ROGERS: But Biden didn't have to do it this way. There is a strong pool of diverse civilians and former military leaders with qualifications and experience to serve as Secretary. President Biden could have selected from this talent pool, but he chose not to. I voted for the waiver for General Mattis, and I will vote for the waiver for General Austin. For me, it's just fair, a waiver for a Republican president and a waiver for a Democrat president.

MIKE GALLAGHER: Much has been made about the historic nature of Mr Austin's nomination, which is true, but in more ways than one. If we change the law today, we will now have done so twice within four years. Now, I know in politics we're not supposed to change our minds, but if we are unwilling to learn from recent experience or change our minds in response to new information, then we are doomed to repeat the exact same mistakes. And this is why I am voting "no," among other reasons.

STENY HOYER: And I think the president has chosen well, and I urge my colleagues to grant this waiver. This, I would add, is not confirmation. Our brothers and sisters in the United States Senate will still have to judge and give advice and consent to this appointment. But this waiver is a precondition to them considering it on the merits, and I hope that we will give them that.