Former Vice President Joe Biden and his transition team have continued to dominate news headlines by rolling out their high-level Cabinet and staffing picks on a steady schedule, with the most recent announcement that Biden wants retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin to be his Secretary of Defense.
According to Fox News, Biden’s pick for the prominent Cabinet-level position is already drawing criticism from within the Democrat party, as Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) called into question the appointment of a military officer for the role over a civilian, a move which “feels off,” she claimed.
Slotkin’s authority on the subject is cemented by her prominent position on the House Armed Services Committee, along with experience from her previous career in which she worked as a CIA intelligence analyst with multiple tours served in the Iraq war under two presidents.
The Michigan lawmaker praised the retired general in a tweet this week, recounting an occasion when she worked with Austin when he was a commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, but she held nothing back in the tweet about her thoughts on Austin serving as the Defense Secretary.
“But choosing another recently retired general to serve in a role that is designated for a civilian just feels off. The job of secretary of defense is purpose-built to ensure civilian oversight of the military,” Slotkin wrote.
Federal law prohibits recently retired military officers from serving in such a capacity unless they’re able to get a waiver for the position, which would require a vote in both chambers of Congress. The last time that happened was for retired Gen. James Mattis, who served as President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary.
In a piece written for the Atlantic, Biden defended his reasoning for choosing Austin for the position.
“I chose Lloyd Austin as my nominee for secretary of defense because I know how he reacts under pressure, and I know that he will do whatever it takes to defend the American people,” the former vice president wrote.
Many are already predicting that Austin will have a tough time being confirmed, as he will first have to potentially get the waiver approval from a Republican-controlled Senate, should the GOP retain control after an upcoming special runoff election in Georgia.