THE SENATE overwhelmingly confirmed President Joe Biden's nominee for defense secretary on Friday morning, wrapping up a speedy process to install retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as the country's first Black Pentagon chief.
In a 93-2 vote, the Senate advanced Austin's nomination one day after he was granted a waiver to the law that requires a nominee to be out of active duty for seven years before becoming secretary of defense. Austin retired in 2016 as a four-star Army general who in his last role led the United States Central Command overseeing all operations in the Middle East.
Austin becomes the second member of Biden's Cabinet approved by the Senate. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the first female to serve in the role, was confirmed hours after Wednesday's inauguration as part of a push to get key Cabinet nominees quickly installed in the early days of Biden's presidency, especially those who oversee national security matters. Senate Democrats are now looking to move quickly on Biden's nominee Antony Blinken to helm the State Department.