Senate confirms Austin as defense secretary

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed President Joe Biden's nominee, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, to serve as Secretary of Defense - the first Black American in the role.

The vote was an overwhelming 93 to 2 in the 100-member chamber - far more than the simple majority needed.

Lawmakers from both parties said they were pleased that Austin would be installed to lead the Pentagon just two days after Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday.

Senator James Inhofe, the outgoing Republican chairman of the armed services panel, had urged support for the nominee, citing the ”most threatened time that we're in.”

Members of Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a waiver that allowed Austin to lead the Pentagon even though he had not cleared the required seven-year waiting period since leaving the uniformed services.

Austin on Friday arrived at the Pentagon minutes after being confirmed to attend to a busy schedule that included a call with the NATO’s secretary general and a briefing on the global crisis with top Pentagon leadership.

Video Transcript

- Mr Leahy. Aye.

REPORTER: The US Senate on Friday confirmed President Joe Biden's nominee, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, to serve as Secretary of Defense, the first Black American in the role. The vote was an overwhelming 93 to 2 in the 100-member chamber, far more than the simple majority needed.

- So nevertheless, I'll vote today to confirm a clear patriot with an impressive career.

REPORTER: Lawmakers from both parties said they were pleased that Austin would be installed to lead the Pentagon, just two days after Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday. Senator James Inhofe, the outgoing Republican chairman of the armed services panel had urged support for the nominee citing the, quote, most threatened time that we're in.

Members of Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a waiver that allowed Austin to lead the Pentagon even though he had not clear the required seven-year waiting period since leaving the uniformed services. Austin on Friday arrived at the Pentagon minutes after being confirmed to attend to a busy schedule that included a call with the NATO Secretary General and a briefing on the global crisis with top Pentagon leadership.

- Thanks for being here. I look forward to working with you. See you around campus.