McConnell on Ret. Gen. Austin’s Nomination and Civil-Military Relations
‘So I’ll vote today to confirm a clear patriot with an impressive career. But I’ll cast that vote with the understanding that our new Secretary of Defense specifically commits to balancing civil-military relations, empowering civilian leaders at the Pentagon, and playing an active role in the inherently political budget process to get our forces what they need.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding nominations:
“We’re continuing to consider President Biden’s nominees to key cabinet posts.
“On Wednesday, Avril Haines was confirmed as Director of National Intelligence on a big, bipartisan vote, including my own.
“We hope to be able to consider Antony Blinken to be Secretary of State early next week.
“Today, we’re considering Retired General Lloyd Austin, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Defense.
“Yesterday, I voted to approve the waiver that would allow him to serve in this post notwithstanding the seven-year cooling-off period after military service. And I’ll be voting in favor of confirmation.
“I’m voting “yes” because the nominee is clearly qualified, and because Presidents should get real latitude to fill their teams with qualified and mainstream people of their choosing.
“But at the same time, the Senate should pause and reflect on the fact that we’ll have begun two consecutive presidential administrations by issuing a waiver to a four-star general and former CENTCOM commander to lead the Pentagon.
“The Armed Services Committee held a hearing last week to examine the waiver and the current state of civil-military relations at the Pentagon. I expect the Committee will continue to pay close attention to this important issue in the months ahead, and will investigate steps the Congress can take to help restore balance at the Pentagon.
“The law that we keep waiving exists for a reason. Civilian control of the military is a fundamental principle of our Republic. We emphatically do not want high-ranking military service to become a tacit prerequisite for the civilian leadership post atop the Department of Defense.
“It’s not just about a simplistic fear that the military will end up running itself. To the contrary, many experts worry that military leaders’ appropriate fixation on being nonpolitical may not prepare them to fight forcefully for our Armed Forces amid the political rough-and-tumble in the executive branch and here in Congress.
“So I’ll vote today to confirm a clear patriot with an impressive career. But I’ll cast that vote with the understanding that our new Secretary of Defense specifically commits to balancing civil-military relations, empowering civilian leaders at the Pentagon, and playing an active role in the inherently political budget process to get our forces what they need.
“Our intensifying competition with China and Russia and all the other threats we face demand nothing less.”
Related Issues: America's Military, Nominations, National Security