President Biden sought to alleviate concern that this appointment would again threaten the tenet and tradition of civil control of the military by arguing Austin’s qualifications. “Austin’s many strengths and his intimate knowledge of the Department of Defense and our government are uniquely matched to the challenges and crises we face. He is the person we need in this moment.”
Austin sought to allay those concerns as well in his hearing, and succeeded. “At last week’s hearing on civilian control of the military, valid concerns were raised. But at his nomination hearing, Austin pledged to repair civilian military relations. These were critical comments from Austin, whom I support,” Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said before Friday’s vote.
He also faced tough questioning from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called him out for his ties to Raytheon, a massive defense contractor headquartered in her home state. Austin was on the board of directors for the company up until now. Warren pressed Austin on his initial commitment to a one-year recusal period from weighing in on any matters involving Raytheon, and secured a promise that he would recuse himself for the whole of Biden’s first term. “Well I just want you to know I really do appreciate that, general,” Warren responded. “Going above and beyond what federal law requires as you are doing here sends a powerful message that you are working on behalf of the American people and no one else.” She voted for confirmation Friday.