January 22, 2021

Van Hollen Statement on Vote to Confirm Lloyd Austin

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement on his vote to confirm Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense:

“Today, I was proud to vote in support of Lloyd Austin to serve as our next Secretary of Defense. I cast my vote with confidence that he will capably lead the Department of Defense through this difficult period in our nation’s history.

“As a four-star general, Lloyd Austin was tasked with leading the drawdown of American troops from Iraq – and helped bring 150,000 U.S. soldiers home. He demonstrated the logistical mastery that will be necessary to help lead the nationwide effort to vaccinate against COVID-19. Through his remarkable life and trailblazing career, he has gained the experience and perspective required of this office – and now he has broken one more barrier as the first African-American Secretary of Defense in our nation’s history. And I am confident he will ensure that our armed forces reflect and respect the diversity of our nation and that everyone in our military upholds the oath they take to protect our Constitution.  

“I have made no secret of my concerns about the troubling trend of Congress granting waivers to allow recently retired officers to serve as Secretary of Defense, and I voted against such a waiver for Lloyd Austin as I did when that question was previously put before the Congress. Nevertheless, I believe once Congress speaks on the issue of a waiver, each Senator must evaluate the nominee on his or her merits alone. By that measure, Lloyd Austin is superbly qualified. He has the confidence of the President and is the right person for this moment. I support his confirmation.”