General Lloyd Austin and Biden show up as President-elect’s lobby for Democrats to support the resignation of Secretary of Defense candidate

Biden will officially introduce Austin as his candidate to lead the Pentagon at a Wednesday afternoon event in Delaware. If confirmed, he will go down in history as the first black defense secretary.

The selection sparked a new debate around civilian control of the military. Austin, who retired four years ago, would demand the same resignation that Congress gave four years ago to President Donald Trump’s candidate, retired naval officer Jim Mattis – and this has led Democrats to say they are reluctant to approve such a resignation once, and he doesn’t want to do it again.

This week, several Senate Democrats said they opposed Austin’s dismissal. Senator Richard Blumenthal, of D-Connecticut, said one of his permits “would violate the principle that there should be civilian control over non-political military.”

But Senator Rhode Island, a senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was open to Austin’s acquittal, saying “in all truth, the candidate should be given the opportunity to explain himself.”

Biden’s transition team is already lobbying for Congress: He has approached more than 100 House and Senate offices for Austin’s nomination and resignation, a transition official said.

Austin is expected to speak “early” to the congressional leadership, including the leadership of the House, as well as members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committee, when it begins the ratification process, the official said.

Biden selected Austin from three finalists and offered him the post over the weekend, CNN wrote earlier.

In his release to the Atlantic on Tuesday, Biden directly addressed the need for Austin to resign. “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 ahead. He is the person we need at the moment,” he wrote.

“I respect and believe in the importance of civilian control of our military and the importance of a strong civilian-military working relationship with the DoD – as well as Austin,” Biden wrote. “We need empowered civilians working with military leaders to shape DoD policy and ensure that our defense policy is accountable to the American people. Austin also knows that the defense secretariat has different responsibilities than a chief officer and that civil-military he has been under a lot of dynamic stress over the last four years. He is working tirelessly to get on the field. “

Biden Austin’s rank involves deep personal and family ties: Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, served in Austin’s staff in Iraq and maintained close contact there, sitting side by side at Sunday Mass and remaining friends after Beau Biden returned from his deployment, a source familiar with Biden’s decision said.

“During his more than 40 years in the U.S. Army, Austin has responded to every challenge with extraordinary skill and deep honesty. He is a true and proven soldier and leader. I have spent countless hours with him, in the field and in the White House situation room,” Biden wrote. “I asked for his advice, I saw his command, and I admired his composure and character. He is the patriotic definition.”

CNN’s Ted Barrett, Nicole Gaouette, Manu Raju, Kate Sullivan, Jake Tapper, Jasmine Wright and Jeff Zeleny contributed to the report.