House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith on Friday introduced a bill for an exemption that would allow retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to head the Department of Defense in a Biden administration.
Such legislation is necessary to get around the seven-year waiting period before retired senior military officers such as Mr. Austin can serve as defense secretary. The exemption is controversial because it was recently used for retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis.
Mr. Smith, Washington Democrat, initially had concerns about having another recently retired general leading the Pentagon, but called Friday’s legislation an “important step” to advance the process for Mr. Austin‘s “historic nomination.”
“Secretary-designate Austin has reinforced his understanding of the role civilian control of our military plays in the safety and security of our democracy,” Mr. Smith said, adding that Mr. Austin “is committed to upholding this cherished principle.”
Mr. Smith said he looks forward to a “forthcoming and transparent” working relationship with Mr. Austin during his tenure.
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