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Angus King Supports Nomination Of Lloyd Austin As Defense Secretary

Jim Lo Scalzo
Pool via AP
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, appears virtual to ask questions during a confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, a recently retired Army general, before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

On a voice vote, the Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended confirmation of retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine was among those who voted in support.

Because Austin left the Army just four years ago, he needs Congress to issue a waiver from the federal law requiring that former military personnel be retired for at least seven years before they can serve as secretary of defense. King says it’s a good law that aims at keeping civilians in that position.

“I think there were some reluctant votes on that, I was one of them. But I voted to allow the waiver because I think we need a secretary of defense. I think Lloyd Austin is the right guy,” he says.

King told MSNBC that Austin made clear at his confirmation hearing that he will place civilians in key positions in the department.

“I think he is going to surround himself with civilians in his office, so I was persuaded this was the right move. The support for the waiver passed the Armed Services Committee,” he says.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.