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Confirmation of the new SECDEF

Austin is sworn in as defense secretary, attends briefings on coronavirus pandemic, other operations

WASHINGTON — Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin was confirmed Friday by the Senate to be the 28th defense secretary and the first Black man to hold the position.

The Senate voted 93 to 2 to approve Austin’s nomination to the job. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah and Josh Hawley, R-Mo. voted against him.

“Secretary Austin is a trailblazer who has once again made history. His ability, integrity, and dynamic leadership earned him a place atop the Pentagon hierarchy. At every step of his career, he’s been a team builder and someone who focuses on the mission, leads by example, and gets the job done,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement. Reed is the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Reed’s Republican counterpart on the committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, said he looks forward to working with Austin to support the Defense Department.