Senator Elizabeth Warren says she “very respects” General Lloyd J. Austin III, the retired four-star general appointed by President-elect Joe Biden as the next Secretary of Defense.
However, the Massachusetts Democrats plan to vote for the congressional resignation needed to ratify Austin.
Austin, who last served as commander of U.S. Central Command, is the first black man in the country’s history to lead the Pentagon after his four-decade military career. However, federal law prohibits former military officials from serving as defense secretaries within seven years of ending active service due to long-standing concerns about maintaining civilian control of the armed forces.
Austin retired in 2016, which means the House and Senate must approve the exemption to be Secretary of Defense. Such resignations have been given only twice in U.S. history — once in 1950 by General George Marshall and once in 2017 by General James Mattis — and the last time Warren voted against him.
The Hill says it has no plans to make an exception against Austin.
“I have great respect for General Austin,” Warren told reporters on Tuesday. “His career has been exemplary and I look forward to meeting him and talking to him even more, but I am opposed to the dismissal of General Mattis and I am opposed to the dismissal of General Austin.”
Warren detailed his rationale in 2017 after Mattis was nominated.
“Americans have always been skeptical of concentrated government power, and concentrated military power tops the list,” he said in a statement at the time. “Civilian control of the military is so essential to the effective functioning of any democracy that we often take it for granted – but it shouldn’t. As elected civilian leaders, it is our responsibility not to undermine this principle without very compelling reason. “
Warren noted that the original minimum ten-year separation period, reduced to seven years in 2008, was brought in 1947 by a congress that “had just experienced World War II”.
“They knew a lot of trained officers would be excluded,” he said. “But in any case, they have done so – to ensure that such leaders have time to move from a soldier’s perspective to a civilian approach, to reduce their attachment to a particular branch of service, and to make it clear that the army itself is the second civilian leader. “
Warren is not the only Democrat to be uncomfortable with the pattern of such resignations. Several other Democrats also expressed concern on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. Several Senate leaders, including the highest Republican and Democrat MP on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Warren also serves, have indicated openness to non-compliance with the law.
Biden himself acknowledged the hurdle of the seven-year rule, but urged Congress to give Austin the same treatment as Mattis. THE Tuesday tweet series, White House incoming communications director Jen Psaki said both Biden and Austin “believe in strong and empowered civilian voices and perspectives that shape Department of Defense policy alongside military leaders and ensure that our defense policy is accountable to the American people. before.”
“Given the huge and urgent threats and challenges facing our nation, he needs to be strengthened quickly,” the elected Democratic president wrote on Tuesday in the Atlantic. “The fact that Austin’s many strengths and the intimate knowledge of the Department of Defense and our government are uniquely responsive to the challenges and crises we face. He is the person we need at the moment. “
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