tv U.S. House of Representatives Lloyd Austin Waiver for Defense Secretary CSPAN January 22, 2021 5:31am-6:38am EST
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington, mr. smith, is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. ladies and gentlemen of the house, this is the bill that will grant a waiver, an exemption, to lloyd austin to be nominated and confirmed as the secretary of defense. this is required because there is a law in the books that says that you must be seven years separated from military service in order to serve as secretary of defense. mr. austin has been out for almost five years but does not meet the seven-year requirement, so we need to pass this law to give him that exemption. this is not an easy question. civilian control of the military is enormously important and that is why this law was put in place. but in looking at this i feel
there are three basic questions. number one, does the nominee in question understand and reassure us in the house for the purposes of our vote on this portion of the waiver, that he understands and is committed to civilian control of the military. second, is there something about this particular nominee that makes it important to grant this exclusion, to grant this waiver? and third, is the individual qualified for the job? i do believe that that is important. and the details of their history is important to deciding that. and i have, after a lot of thought, a and i have, after a lot of thought, concluded that all three of those criteria are met in this instance. taking the last one first, lloyd austin is unquestionably highly qualified to be the secretary of defense. he had a distinguished career in the military. serving in multiple different command posts, including the commanding general in iraq, the
head of centcom and the vice chief of staff of the army. it's beyond question that lloyd austin is qualified for this job. he just finished a two-hour presentation before the armed services committee, taking our questions, in which he made it absolutely clear that he has a keen understanding of the issues that are going to face the secretary of defense, and the experience necessary and the intelligence necessary to deal with them. he is highly qualified. on the first question of civilian control of the military, he has assured us over and over again of how important that is and, more importantly, his actions reflect that. he has come before the house, which you do not typically have to do in order to be confirmed to a secretary-level position, but he has called us and he has reached out to us in a way that, frankly, four years ago the trump administration did not permit then-secretary nominee jim mattis to do. he has called countless members of the committee, he has met with us, he has showed us that he respects what is really one of the cornerstones of civilian
control of the military and that is the house and the senate. we are the ones who have oversight of the pentagon. he's shown that he respects that. so i can tell you and all members voting, without a shadow of a doubt, i have no concern whatsoever about lloyd austin upholding civilian control of the military. and then there's the second issue. why this person in this instance? mr. austin will be the first african-american nominated, i yield myself an additional minute -- mr. austin will be the first african-american nominated to be secretary of defense. which is enormously important in and of itself. the military has a problem with diversity. they have an insufficient number of people of color who have been advanced to high positions, to general and general flag officers. it's enormously important they address that. in addition, in this country, we have an enormous problem right now with white supremacy. we also have a problem within our military ranks. let me be perfectly clear. i have 100% confidence in our
military. but this is an issue that they do need to address. is the rise of white supremacy and white nationalism within their ranks? having a highly qualified african-american be secretary of defense will be an enormous step towards addressing that problem. so i believe 100% mr. austin has met the criteria to be granted this exclusion. lastly, i want to say, this law still matters. because without this law, we wouldn't have this process. we would not have the opportunity to question mr. austin in advance of his confirmation in the senate. so the law has upheld its meaning and its role to maintain civilian control of the military by forcing this conversation. i urge all members to vote in favor of the waiver for lloyd austin and with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington, mr. smith, reserves. the gentleman from alabama, mr. rogers, is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker.
before i begin, i want to take main to thank the men and women of the national guard for the service they provided in protecting this capitol over the last two weeks. i especially want to thank the 750 men and women from the state of alabama who came here to the call of duty. once again, these citizen soldiers left their homes and their jobs to respond to this call and although it's unfortunate they were needed, it's certainly appreciated by all of us that they were here. mr. speaker, i firmly believe that each president deserves the opportunity to fill their cabinet as they see fit. and i agree it's important to confirm president biden's national security team as soon as possible. especially given the grave threats that we face. four years ago this house provided a process to consider waiver for general mattis. we were all disappointed when general mattis did not appear before the armed services committee. yet the armed services committee still convened and held a public markup of the waiver which passed without a single vote from any democrat. then the full house debated the vote and waiver. this time around the armed services committee was excluded
from the process by the democrat leadership of this house. this was not a decision made by chairman smith, who wanted a public hearing as much as i did. there has been no public hearing, no markup of a waiver, no opportunity for amendments. just four years ago, democrat leadership told us how important it was to follow regular order and allow the armed services committee to consider the mattis waiver. speaker pelosi said, quote, the american people are entitled to a regular order and thoughtful scrutiny of nominees in any potential waivers, closed quote. majority leader hoyer said, quote, the committee has a right and a responsibility to inquire of general mattis why he thinks he ought to be given a waiver, closed quote. i guess this time around they don't feel the same way. mr. speaker, civilian control of the military is a fundamental tenant of our republic. it's rooted in our constitution. the law prohibiting recently retired military from serving as secretary of defense was enacted shortly after world war ii, to uphold this principle. in nearly 75 years, the law has
only been waived twice. for general marshall and general mattis. this will be the third time. but biden didn't have to do it this way. there is a strong pool of diverse civilians and former military leaders with qualifications and experience to serve as secretary. president biden could have selected from this talent pool but he chose not to. i voted for the waiver for general mattis and i will vote for the waiver for general austin. for me it's just fair. a waiver for a republican president and a waiver for a democratic president. but i stand here frustrated by this dysfunctional process. president trump and president biden forced this congress into situations made worse this time around by the speaker's decision to ignore regular order. congress should not have to entertain these waivers. presidents need to follow the law as written. they need to stop asking congress to waive a statute. and we certainly shouldn't be forced to do so outside of regular order. if presidents don't think the law matters, then they need to address this waiver issue in this year's ndaa.
mr. speaker, america faces extraordinary threats from strategic competitors like china and russia, rogue nations like iran and north korea, as well as terrorists and other transnational enemies. it's more critical now than ever to strengthen our military, address mounting readiness problems, and modernize our conventional and nuclear forces to defeat these threats. i believe general austin understands the threats that we face. i believe he respects the principle of civilian control. i believe he will stand up to the efforts of many of the democrat majority who seek to slash defense spending and rewrite our defense strategy. i hope the rest of the bidened a shares -- administration -- biden administration shares his commitment to providing for the men and women in our -- in uniform and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself 30 seconds before yielding to mr. brown. i just -- we're going to have process arguments all year long. in this committee.
or in this house. but it's really disingenuous what was just said. the only reason we didn't go through regular order, the only reason we didn't have a public hearing and the only reason we didn't have a vote in our committee, is because the republicans, as we stand here right now, have not appointed their members to the armed services committee. so therefore we don't have a committee. it is the day after mr. biden has become president. he needs his secretary of defense. i have begged the republicans for the better part of a month to appoint their members. so we could do our job. so for them to choose not to appoint their members and then come to the floor crying about process, that's not really fair. we tried to do the process right. they stopped us from doing the process right. and i want the record to reflect that. with that, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from maryland and maybe of the armed services committee, well, a soon to be member of the armed services committee, once we have one, mr. brown.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland, mr. brown, is recognized for two minutes. nancy brown mr. speaker, lloyd austin -- mr. brown: mr. speaker, lloyd austin would be the first african-american secretary of defense. his confirmation is more than a symbolic milestone towards genuine integration of the department of defense. it's a substantive answer to many of the challenges that the military faces. what are those challenges, mr. speaker? white supremacy and extremism. there's a dramatic rise in white supremacists and racist hate grumes within our military. they -- hate groups within our military. a survey found an alarming rise in white supremacists and racist ideology in the military. what are those challenges, mr. speaker? the lack of diversity and inclusion at our highest ranks and in our coveted career fields. racial and ethnic groups make up more than 40% of the nation's military but there's a significant lack of diversity in civilian and military leadership at the most senior levels. due in large part to systemic
racial bice in promotion and assignment boards. this hurts the military. our readiness and our effectiveness. what are those challenges, mr. speaker? the military isn't immune from the racial injustice that we see in the broader criminal justice system. under the uniform code of military justice today, a black service member is two times more likely to be court marshaled or punished. these are real challenges that erode the effectiveness of our military. that's why we need a leader like lloyd austin. he understands the complexities of the military and the challenges our country faces. his lived experience and his professional record cry out for a waiver to lead the department of defense. president biden is committed to civilian control of the military, protecting our men and women in uniform, and restoring american leadership. president biden has confidence in lloyd austin and so should we. he's the right man for this moment, for our military. i strongly urge my colleagues to support the waiver of soon to be secretary lloyd austin at the department of defense. i yield back the balance of my
time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. before i yield to my colleague, i want to address the chairman and my friend from -- my friend's remarks about the establishment of the armed services committee. we did not establish our members from our steering committee because we didn't get our ratio from the democratic leadership until last week. it was physically not possible. had we gotten our ratio a month ago or even two weeks ago, we would have set our members and we would have had a sitting committee. the reason we didn't have a public hearing date, the chairman is right, we didn't have a sitting committee. that is the fault of the democratic leadership. not the minority. with that, i yield five minutes to my friend and colleague from wisconsin, mr. gallagher. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from well, wisconsin is otherwise -- from wisconsin is recognized for five minutes. mr. gallego: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank -- mr. gallagher: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my colleague and i look forward to working with him and with the chairman on what is truly still i think the most bipartisan committee in
congress. i want to make clear, i have enormous respect for general austin's service. i don't think anyone can look at his record and not come away very impressed. but i also strongly oppose this bill. there's no waiver, we're actually changing the underlying law. this is one of the biggest talking points four years ago. we should not do so lightly. much has been made about the historic nature of mr. austin's nomination. which is true. but in more ways than one. if we change the law today, we will now have done so twice within four years. effectively destroying the historical precedent against such exemptions. we will also invert the congressional intent in the underlying national security act by setting the precedent that the presumption is for approval, not the disapproval, of recently retired officers. so the law and the norm of
civil milltary -- civil-military relations that it's set to buttress is on life support right now. as in 2017, we will be granting this exemption without a public hearing of the armed services committee, which is the bare minimum of our constitutional obligations. we will be getting rolled over, to borrow a phrase that was used four years ago, and i don't know, i'm not in the room where these ratios are discussed and this and that, but it seems to me that it's worth waiting a few days in order to have such a public hearing, but it's my understanding that our entire workweek next week has been canceled. so i don't think it with standing basic scrutiny to suggest we couldn't have a public hearing to discuss this very, very important issue. now, four years ago, i voted in favor of the exemption for secretary mattis. i think it was my first vote. it was certainly my first speech on the house floor. so it's fair to ask what has changed? well, a lot has changed. first, perhaps most
importantly, the threat from china is far greater and we need a secretary with indo pay comexperience. the nominee has admit -- paycom experience. the nominee has admitted he's not experienced in that regard. second, budgetary pressures on the department are much bigger, particularly in the post-pandemic world, it is going to be far more difficult to build off the success that we've had in giving the department the resources it needs and we will need a secretary with political experience who can fight and win interagency battles for a higher top line. and third, we also have more data. four years ago we ran this experiment for the first time in 67 years. and we learned that recently retired general officers face unique challenges when leading
the department. specifically, the need to publicly advocate for a higher top line. which requires some political experience and the nominee has made much of the apolitical nature of his prior experience. i know in politics we're not supposed to change our minds, but if we are unwilling to learn from recent experience or change our minds in response to new information, then we are doomed to repeat the exact same mistakes. and this is why i am voting no -- no, among other reasons. but i want to be clear. i want mr. austin, soon to be secretary austin, to be successful in this job. nothing would make me happier than to look back on his time at d.o.d. and be able to say he was the most successful secretary of defense in our nation's history. because that will mean that we as a committee were successful in working with him to do what is right for our men and women in uniform and do what is right for the rest of the country. so, though i will oppose
changing the law again for the second time in four years, i very much do look forward to working with my colleagues, both republican and democrat, i genuinely appreciate the honest exchange of views that we had on this issue four years ago, and four years later. i can only say that four years from now, i hope we are not having the exact same debate, because it will prove that we have learned nothing from this. but with that, i yield back to my colleague from alabama. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from alabama reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i'm pleased to yield one minute to the distinguished speaker of the house, miss pa lowsy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from california is recognized for one minute. police pelosi: i thank you, mr. speaker -- forbes force ms. pelosi: i thank you, mr. speaker -- -- ms. pelosi: i thank you, mr. speaker. heries us to the floor today for a very special privilege. we in the house really most of the time do not have too much
says as to who will be a member of the cabinet. that is advise and consent responsibility lies with the senate. but today because of the special nature of the appointee, we are here to talk about a waiver. as a member of congress, again, no more serious responsibility. it's the oath we take to protect and defend. the responsibility, our responsibility is to protect the american people. that responsibility is why we must waste no time in ensuring that president joe biden's national defense and national security team is confirmed, ready and able to keep our country and our people safe. president biden selected a highly qualified and widely respected leader in nominating general lloyd austin for secretary of defense.
general austin has led with honor and served with dignity. with over 40 years of decorated army service, secretary designate austin brings a great understanding of the challenges facing our nation's defense, and a deep appreciation for the sacrifice of our military and their families. the stark circumstances of this nomination in light of the deadly insurrection assault on the capitol, or coronavirus pandemic, the undermining of the pentagon by the previous president, and more necessitate the expeditious confirmation of this extremely qualified leader. i do want to say as a constitutional officer, the speaker of the house is a constitutional officer, written into the constitution, and as a former leader of the intelligence committee,
democratic leader of the intelligence committee, my commitment to a strong civilian control of our military as required by the constitution is firm. there is not an issue with us. it is a value, a value. civilian control of the military. and the congress' power to grant or withhold an exemption for recent active duty military service members to become secretary of defense is one of the most -- must be treated with gravity and diligence. that is why i'm so glad that president biden and general austin insisted on our request to the armed services committee members. that did not happen under general mattis. i'm a big fan of general mattis, but president trump said he
could not come speak to the congress. and that's a big difference. that's a big difference. so, again, with gratitude to president biden in recognizing the important role that the house of representatives plays in this, i had the privilege as have other members of hearing from general austin, as well as the committee today. by the way, in case you didn't notice, when you are talking about timetables relating to committee ratios, two weeks ago there was an insurrection in this chamber. it was disruptive of the normal pattern unfolding. we all had to adjust our schedules and address the needs of our caucuses and this congress accordingly, in case you didn't notice.
again, my conversations with secretary designated assured me he understands respect and will uphold the critical priority of civilian control of the military. and he has spoken several times to the chairman health armed services committee and members of the committee and has given him similar assurances. the secretary designate has further demonstrated his commitment to temperatures with the congress respecting the weight of the decision that we will make as i mentioned meeting with members of the armed services committee to discuss this issue earlier today. in the face of the many threats, both foreign and domestic, confronting our nation, it is essential that secretary designate austin be immediately confirmed. blocking this waiver would be a mistake. that among other dangers would delay the urgent work to be done to restore the independence and
capabilities of the defense department which we must do as soon as possible. with that, i urge a strong bipartisan vote to grant this waiver for secretary designate lloyd austin to be -- to serve as secretary of defense. i salute him for his patriotism. thank him for his heroism. and look forward to calling him mr. secretary. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from california yields back. the gentleman from washington reserves. gentleman from alabama, mr. rogers, is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i'm proud to yield two minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. jacobs. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for two minutes. mr. jacobs: i thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today in support of the waiver allowing general lloyd austin to serve as secretary of defense. civilian leadership at the top of the pentagon is desirable and necessary. i believe this should be -- should only be reserved for
unique circumstances regularly nominating candidates who require waivers is not a precedent we should set. however, examining general austin's credentials and the circumstances facing our nation lead me to believe the approval of this specific waiver is warranted. the covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing. china is growing bolder and more aggressive using espionage, cyber warfare, and man nip plathe plays to undermine u.s. and global security. i iran remeans a threat to the middle east and the world. north korea continues to pursuit an ambitious nuclear weapons development program. these issues and others require the steady hand of an experienced and qualified secretary of defense. general austin meets these requirements and is more than qualified to oversee our nation's military. i urge the support of this waiver. i look forward to working with secretary austin to confront these very real threats to our national security. thank you. i yield back.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from alabama reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. khanna. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. khanna: thank you, mr. speaker. thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership. in history there are many generals who are celebrated for logistical fetes to win a war -- feats to win a war. rare is a general who is celebrated for logistical feats to end a war. general austin presided over the most significant withdrawal of troops and equipment, over 150,000 troops from iraq, successfully. he helped bring that conflict to an end. general austin helped us prevent getting into a catastrophic conflict in syria. now, i don't think the american people are concerned about process arguments about whether someone wore a uniform or didn't
wear a uniform. what they want to know is the outcome. is the leader going to help start new wars or end wars? general austin, with secretary blinken and jake sullivan, is going to help end the war in yemen. they want to know is the leader going to turn a blind eye to white supremacy or are they going to stand up for equality? general austin will stand up for equality in our military. and most importantly, they want to know is a leader going to circumvent the president of the united states as certain civilian leaders have, or is the leader going to defer to the duel -- duly elected president of the united states. general austin deferred to president obama and he will absolutely defer to president biden. the last point i hear my colleagues say, they say, well, he doesn't have expertise on china or india. first of all, no one has expertise in every region of
world. no defense secretary is going to have ph.d. thesis about every country. the important thing is we do not need another leader who is going to saber rattle and get us into another cold war with china. we need someone who is going to be tough, but who is going to have the wisdom and the judgment to defer to the national security team and the president and help create a constructive relationship. general austin will do that. i proudly support his nomination for secretary of defense. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i proudly yield two minutes to my friend and colleague from georgia, mr. carter. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. carter: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, i rise today in support of this waiver. general lloyd austin grew up in south georgia where he was raised by his parents in thomasville. a graduate of west point he would go on to a career that spanned numerous units, responsibilities, and engagements. his first assignment was to the
third infantry division. now stationed in my district at fort stewart. in the early 2000s he served as assistant commander for the third division duringt invasion of iraq. he would later go on to serve as division commander, chief of staff of the united states central command, kent some, the commander of the 18th airborne core, army vice chief of staff, finally the commander of centcom . he's been described as a private individual who has committed to carrying out his duties. i, like others, have my reservations about continuing down a path of waivers for former military leaders to serve in civilian positions. what first started with a waiver for general marshall in 1950 and general gwen for again mattis in 2017, we have seen several requests for what many see as once in a generation issue. however, general austin's service and assignments are a reflection of success in his military career. if confirmed, it is my hope that
general austin will carry out his commitment to civilian control of the department of defense and advocate for the priorities essential to national security such as the modernizing of the triade. in a time when our adversaries seek to capitalize on any weaknesses, we need strong leadership. general lloyd austin will provide us with that. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from alabama reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: is thank you, mr. speaker. i am now pleased to yield one minute to the distinguished majority leader, the gentleman from maryland, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for one minute. mr. hoyer: i thank the chairman for yielding. i thank mr. rogers from alabama, the ranking member, for yielding and for bringing this forward as a bipartisan effort. i rise as one of those who opposed the waiver for general mattis. and when people asked me, what's the difference?
mr. gallon ber raised this, change your mind. let me tell you -- mr. gallagher raised this, what changed your mind? let me tell you. this law is a relevant law, an important law. it anticipated when the congress passed it that there would be reasons for waiver. or would not have included it. would have made a preclusion. it did not do that. it said under circumstances that the congress considers it may well be in order to have a waiver. this, i think, is one of those times. very frankly, one of the reasons i voted no on the mattis, is because mr. trump did not know mr. mattis. general mattis, outstanding military service. general mattis didn't know mr. trump. and that relationship did not go well, unfortunately. in my view general mattis was a great tower of strength and independence in leading the department of defense.
so i congratulate him for his service. although i participated in a meeting in the white house in which president trump was very harsh in his analysis of general mattis, which i thought was unfortunate. but this difference that i see today is a very important one. what is that difference? the president of the united states, the commander in chief, the civilian leader knows general austin, has worked with general austin, has taken the measure of general austin, and they have a relationship, a positive relationship. in addition to that, of course, the son of the president, beau biden, serving in the military, served with general austin. . and took the measure of the man and his commitment to civilian leadership in the armed forces.
a critically important concept for the secretary of defense. one problem that dictates the speediest possible passage of this bill is the security situation in which we find ourselves. always in a transition, the minute can think you're weak and not able -- the enemy can think you're weak and not able to respond in an effective way. that's why traditionally, mr. speaker, the congresses do in fact confirm the secretary of defense, secretary of state, the chair of the d.n.i. was just confirmed, director of the d.n.i., it is because we do not want a long period of time between having somebody in charge in the defense department. and in this case, somebody in charge who obviously knows and agrees with the principles of
the president of the united states. and i'm sure he'll give good advice and sometimes he'll disagree. but we have a confidence relationship. so very, very important. this is not a moment for our country to be without a secretary of defense. secretary-designate austin is a highly qualified nominee. spoken to by the bipartisan support that this waiver will garner this day and -- in the congress of the united states, mr. secretary. he would make history, of course, as has been pointed out. and not an insubstantial mark on history. he's the first african-american who will be secretary of defense. at a time when our country is fighting to overcome the legacy of slavery and segregation, and prejudice, as has been pointed out 40% by my friend, mr. brown, who served as lieutenant colonel in the armed forces,
served in iraq. 40% minorities. what a symbol and a tie, a bridge between those of the majority and those of the minority in our services, which will coalesce and bind together better the units, which is extraordinarily important. he served our nation admirably in uniform and oversaw the safety and successful drawdown of our troops from iraq, as has been pointed out by representative khanna. in doing so, he earned the trust of then-vice president biden and bo biden. because the secretary-designate austin's recent military service, he requires a waiver. but again, the waiver is included so that the congress can make a determination as to whether this is appropriate. i can't think of a more appropriate secretary of defense than somebody in whom -- who has great knowledge of, and who has the great confidence of the commander in
chief. we ought to take that action without delay. we must always, mr. speaker, have a clear delineation between the military and civilian authorities in this country. i have a picture hanging on my wall which is also in the rotunda. i have it in my office because it is in the maryland state senate, the old chamber, still in existence, still in the capitol in annapolis, of george washington resigning his commission as commander in chief of the army. of the continental army. i always point out to people who come into my office that the members of the continental congress are seated. notwithstanding their inclination in the presence of this great, iconic figure was to stand and pay reverence to him. and george washington said, no, you sit. because the civilian government is superior to the military. what a great lesson george
washington taught us at that time. which, thank god, has been revered until this time. i think this appointment is the right appointment. i think it will be good for america. i think it will be good for the armed forces of the united states of america. and i think the president has chosen well and i urge my colleagues to grant this waiver . this i would add is not confirmation. our brothers and sisters in the united states senate will still have to judge and give advice and consent to this appointment. but this waiver is a precondition to them considering it on the merits. and i hope that we will give them that. and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i yield two minutes to the ranking member of the readiness subcommittee, my friend from colorado, mr. lamborn. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. and i thank the ranking member for recognizing me.
i've heard from people today that -- who voted yes on mattis and now they're no. or they voted no on mattis and now they're yes. i guess that makes me a model of consistency because i'm a yes and a yes. we should vote yes to give this waiver because the security needs, as mr. hoyer has just said, are pressing upon us. we can't take weeks and weeks to get this person installed. so we need to act quickly and we need to have a waiver rather than starting all over again in this process. the other thing is, mr. austin has been out of the military for almost five years. under the law, there's a seven-year cooling off period. five years, in my mind, is almost as good as seven years. i mean, what's magic about seven years? is six years and 10 months not good enough, but seven years and one month is good enough? there's a little arbitraryness
-- arbitraryiness involved here in choosing seven years in the first place. i believe that five years or almost five years is sufficient for mr. austin to have cooled off. and we had a round table today in committee, i thank the chairman for having that round table. we heard from mr. austin and he very eloquently stated, yeah, he can stand up to people who are in the military. he can tell them what's good for the civilian control of our country. i trust him, he's the right man for the job. our security needs are too pressing to keep dilly-daliing on this. let's vote yes on this issue and -- dilly-dallying on this issue. let's vote yes on the issue and supply the waiver today. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm now pleased to yield two minutes to the other gentleman from colorado, mr. crow. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized for two minutes. mr. crow: thank you, mr. speaker. this waiver vote is about our long history of civilian
control of the military, a critical safeguard of our democracy. but let's be really clear what this vote is not about. it's not about the rise of china or artificial intelligence or autonomous warfare or any of the other issues that i've heard some people talk about that are really the purview of the senate at this point in the process, and president biden. it's also not about changing the law. because the law remains in effect and the limitation remains in effect. the question before this body is whether there are specific extenuating circumstances in this moment in time to grant a waiver, and whether the heart and mind of the nominee is consistent with this spirit of the law. in the aftermath of january 6, we are reminded how deeply rooted racism exists in our country. among those who stormed the capitol were current and former military. a fact that highlights the national domestic security
threat of extremism in our military. secretary designee austin is uniquely qualified with his experience and background to address this threat. he understands in a deeply personal way how to deal with it. he is a man that understands that our military is more than a formation of tanks and planes and troops, that it's actually a standard bearer of our values. and we are stronger when we lead with our values and we channel the full strength of our diversity to meet our threats. in addition to that, nobody can stand up here and say, as we are still under attack by russia, cyberattack, and meeting so many other threats, that the extenuating circumstances at the time do not merit getting a nominee into this role immediately. that's why i rise in strong support of lloyd austin's nomination and waiver, and will be working very hard to support him as our next secretary of defense. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman from colorado yields back. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. i have two more speakers that aren't here yet so i'll reserve for the time being. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i am now pleased to yield two minutes -- i'm sorry, it's going to take her a moment to get up there, ms. kaptur, you're up. sorry, did not expect the republicans not to go there. anyway. i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from ohio, ms. kaptur. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from ohio is recognized for two minutes. ms. kaptur: thank you, chairman smith, so very much. mr. speaker, i rise today in full support of a waiver for general lloyd austin to grant president biden his historic nomination for seng of defense -- secretary of defense. the concern of civilian control of the military and department of defense should not be lost in this waiver. there are valid concerns in granting second waive source soon. the missed opportunity for the
house, the chamber closest to the american citizens, to hear from general austin directly is disappointing. but these are not normal times. the layers of security currently protecting the capital is a stark reminder that president biden, our service members, and our nation need top defense leadership in place expeditiously. there's no question general austin is a devoutly patriotic man. he has served our country with utter distinction and honor and his qualifications, experience and perspective is what our nation needs today. his service to our country extends over four decades. his talent and dedication to america's security shines in roles few americans can fully comprehend. yet again and again he stands before us head in hand, willing to serve the stars and stripes today. the question is, can he
disconnect a potentially unconscious bice toward a military mind -- bias toward a military mindset? as he assured the senate and the american people throughout his confirmation hearing, there is no doubt he will. he has been honed in decision making in the most difficult situations. in a manner of weeks, both the house armed services committee and our defense appropriations subcommittee will welcome a newly minted secretary of defense austin, members can hear even more from him directly on how he will lead as a civilian. over my years as a defense appropriator, i have come to realize our military personnel are phenomenal at filling the roles they are assigned. and our military -- may i have an additional 10 seconds, please? mr. smith: i yield the gentlelady an additional 30 seconds. ms. kaptur: i thank the gentleman for yielding. over my years as a defense appropriator, i have come to realize our military personnel are phenomenal at filling the
roles they are assigned. our military personnel are continuously placed in nontraditional positions and time again perform flawlessly. there's no doubt general austin understands being a member of the president's cabinet requires a different perspective. he will fill this role and perform admirably. for these reasons, i encourage all my colleagues to support this waiver and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i'd like to yield two minutes to my colleague from california, mr. issa. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today in support of h.r. 335, both because there's a consistency, for four years ago when i rose in support of a previous general. but when i look at general lloyd austin, i see a qualified individual, in my opinion, and i see somebody worthy of the senate considering. but i also see that in fact we
are setting a precedent. 67 years we didn't. two congresses or two administrations in a row, we have. i strongly recommend today that both bodies, the armed services committees in both bodies, begin the process of looking at what the true length of time should be, and what exceptions and exemptions need to be there. although general austin is a very qualified individual, he still will have subordinates who he helped promote. he'll still have people that he's extremely close to. and that creates a question of civilian leadership. so although i'm not here today to speak in any way against the general or in any way against his predecessor, general mattis, i am saying that it is time for this body after this vote to move to a deliberative process and regular order and begin asking, is 10 years
right? is seven years right? if one year is right, what will be the requirements for that individual before we again face that with some future, highly qualified former military person? and with that, i thank the gentleman and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california yields back. the gentleman from alabama reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm now pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized for two minutes. mr. lynch: good afternoon, mr. chairman. i want to thank the gentleman from washington for yielding. i rise in strong support of h.r. 335, to allow president bide ton appoint general lloyd austin iii as our next secretary of defense. throughout my tenure on the national security subcommittee i had the personal opportunity to meet with and interact with general austin on numerous
occasions in the field, during the course of several of our oversight investigations. beginning in the early stages of operation enduring freedom, we met in kabul, afghanistan, during his leadership of task force 180. i dealt with general austin again in the midst of operation iraqi freedom and operation new dawn. we also met in baghdad during his multiple deployments as commander of the multinational corps and commander of united states forces iraq. i personally received multiple intelligence briefings from general austin in his capacity as command of u.s. central command, the first african-american to lead that critically important combat command. throughout those investigations into the progress of efforts in afghanistan, iraq, syria and other regional conflict, general
austin has never failed to provide us with direct access to the battlefield and the straight and honest and hard facts as he saw them on the ground. his assessment proved to be critical to our oversight mission an development of legislation concerning u.s. defense, national security and counterterrorism policies. he always demonstrated a maximum respect for the constitutional oversight role of the united states congress and clearly held the highest regard for the civilian leadership of the department of defense. mr. chairman, general austin is especially qualified and deserving of a congressional exemption to allow president biden his appointment. as secretary of defense. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support h.r. 335 and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. >> i reserve at this time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington, mr. smith is recognized.
mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker, i am pleased to yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from texas, ms. jackson lee. as soon as we get done wiping down the equipment. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas, ms. lee, is recognized. ms. lee: i think i would like to raise the question, what would abraham lincoln do? the man who faced the turmoil of a divided nation. i think he would look for an individual like general, mr. lloyd austin, someone who had had the balance of seeing life as a civilian but being an impeccable leader of the united states military. before i came to this floor, i walked down independence avenue to greet the young men and women in the national guard who had come here from texas. i wanted to let them know how important it was for them to be here to defend the citadel of
democracy and how grateful we were that we had a peaceful transition of power yesterday. what i see in mr. austin is a recognition that civilian control of the military has been a bedrock principle of our democracy since the founding of our republic. but yet at the same time, in the back drop of the last four years, i think he is needed for two reasons. one, the military has placed -- has faced an enormous amount of instabble. they were called suckers and losers. yield back the balance of my times -- generals were criticized. so you need someone who is a military person's military person. someone they know is part of the team. then you need someone who can build that morale. yes, we had morale in the previous administration of president barack obama. having respected them. now i believe we must give
president joe biden the opportunity for his secretary of defense. i'm grateful for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who will support this concept, knowing that we believe that civilian control of the military is a bedrock. i do think that we cannot call this a precedent, one and two is not a precedent. i do think we can look at maybe some other deaf anythings of what it mean bus a man who is able to end a war of 150,000 soldiers coming home samantha can lead the united states military in a spirit of lifting the morale, providing stability and calling them the brave men and women that they are. let's support the waiver. vote yes on this resolution. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman
from nevada, mr. horsford. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. horsford: thank you, mr. speaker. thank you to the chairmanism rise today to speak in favor of granting a waiver for retired army general lloyd austin. and this historic nomination to serve as the 28th secretary of defense, the first african-american in u.s. history. for four decades, secretary designate austin served our nation valiantly in the united states army. before retiring he led one of the most important commands in the military, central command where he oversaw america's military strategy and joint operations throughout the middle east. during his service in the middle east he oversaw the safe return of 150,000 brave american troops working closely with our allies as a statesman and diplomat. as our command for the chief, i support president biden and his selection of lloyd austin to protect our national security,
strengthen our global alliances, depoliticize the defense department and be a leader and role model for our brave service members. i had the opportunity to speak directly with secretary designate austin about the needs of service members an their families in nevada's fourth district. he committed to work with me on issues important to those service members and their families, stationed at nellliss and creature air force bases and the 2346 test site. including issues dealing with housing, mental health, child care an education. his leadership, his experience, and his commit. to civil control of the military will ensure our country meets its national security needs. as our secretary of defense, he will also send a powerful message of belonging to all service members, but particularly to members of color who represent more than 40% of our armed services today. so i urge my colleagues to
support this historic nomination, approve the waiver required today, and confirm secretary-designate austin's nomination. thank you, mr. speaker. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from alabama. >> thank you, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is recognized.
general lloyd austin is the right person for the job at the time at hand and congress must allow him to get through and get the job done. i urge my colleagues to vote for the waiver for general austin. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from washington is reserving. the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. rogers: thank you, mr. speaker. at this time i'm prepared to close. and i yield myself such time as i may consume -- myself such time as i may consume. first i want to thank my friend and colleague, chairman smith. i look forward to working with him over this two-year cycle. the debate we've had today is a serious one. the executive branch is asking the legislative branch to waive a law for its benefit. president biden knew this law when he selected general austin. he could have made another selection. but as i said earlier, president trump got a waiver with general mattis and i believe it's only right that i
support one waiver for general austin. it's critical that the president have his national security team in place as soon as possible. i look forward to working with general austin if he's confirmed and i urge a favorable vote and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from alabama, mr. rogers, yields back. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: from this debate, it's clear that mr. austin is highly qualified to be secretary of defense. it's also clear that he has a full appreciation of the importance of civilian control of the military. and finally, it's clear that he is unique to this moment. his experiences as an african-american man coming up through the military puts him in a unique position to address the problems of white supremacy and a lack of diversity across the military, in addition to all of the other challenges that we've heard from speakers today. there's no question he is qualified for this job and that he should be given the waiver so that he can serve in this position. i just want to close by
speaking to the urgency of why we need to do this today and how we got to this point. when i first heard that secretary austin was going to be the selection, i will confess, i was not thrilled about it. not because of secretary austin, i know him, i've worked with him, i think he'll do an outstanding job. but because i realized spoth the responsibility that it put on -- realized the responsibility that it put on this house. entirely nominees are the business of the senate. they confirm, the president picks. but because he picks someone who would require a waiver, we had to engage. and i understood the urgency of getting that done. even while the armed services committee was still in the midst of dealing with the president's veto of the defense bill and trying to get the override done. but i knew the urgency. we had to find a way to get it done. i want to make perfectly clear. mr. rogers has been an outstanding partner in working towards the urgency of moving this forward. the process arguments get lost in the weeds, there are a whole bunch of things we had to do to
be organized as a committee, to be ready to meet the requirements that we had. and we tried our best to do it. now, it is my humble opinion that we met those requirements, even if we didn't have a public hearing. as has been stated by many members, right before this vote we had two hours with mr. austin, over in committee, in which members, republican and democratic members alike, were able to ask him questions and get his answers. i'll tell you, i feel even stronger about the need to confirm him after that conversation. not only was he intelligent, not only was he on point, not only did he understand the issues, but he had something frankly not everybody in the pentagon has, he seemed to genuinely respect us. he seemed to genuinely want to answer our questions. want to deal with us as a co-equal branch of government. and that is enormously important. but the urgency is why we're here today and why we didn't wait the extra week or 10 days. joe biden is president, he doesn't have a secretary of defense.
every day that it goes past that he doesn't have a secretary of defense is a huge problem for a variety of reasons. and let's start with the fact that much has been made that this waiver is problematic because we did it four years ago and now we're doing it again. the exception has become the rule. if it makes anybody feel better, there have actually been four separate secretaries -- people in the secretary of defense position, in between mattis and austin. so it's really just sort of two out of six. that many people have churned through the leadership role in the pentagon. and while the people at the pentagon have done an amazing job fighting through that, it is still problematic to have to have that much turnover. the disruption that president trump brought to the pentagon cannot be underestimated. and i'll never forget being in the meeting in the white house when we were talking about the pullout from syria, when someone dared to bring up secretary mattis' opinion,
recently departed secretary mattis, from secretary of defense, and president trump just lit into secretary mattis. called him weak, called him a terrible human being. meanwhile, sitting right next to him was the incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who had worked with jim mattis. and this is his new boss. the disruption at the pentagon has been enormous. they need a fully confirmed secretary of defense immediately, to begin to thoroughly clean up that mess and get the pentagon back to being as effective as it needs to be. and also, and i will not belabor this point at all, we have a complex threat environment. all right? let's just say that. we heard about it on the committee today. about china and russia and iran, the middle east, north korea, not to mention the domestic insurrection that we all witnessed here just a couple weeks ago. there is an urgency to this. if there wasn't an urgency to
this, i would have waited a week and said, ok, let's take however time people can figure out their ratios and pick their members and whatever. there is an urgency, so instead of having a public hearing, we had a very, very successful briefing. this house, this time has done its job in a way that it didn't four years ago. when we simply took mattis, didn't hear from him and voted on it. that was minor point of whether or not we mark this up in committee. this is not a complicated bill. either austin gets the waiver and he serves, or he doesn't. there's nothing to mark up. it's a question for the house. that's why we came to the full house. this house, with the cooperation, i may say, of mr. rogers, and all of the members, has done its due diligence. above and beyond. and we have concluded without question that the waiver is appropriate, lloyd austin will be an outstanding secretary of defense. he deserves this waiver. and our country deserves a fully confirmed secretary of defense as soon as we can
possibly get that done. which for the purposes of the house is >> the house went on to approve that waiver by 326-70 eight. the senate also approved the waiver thursday evening. today, the senate votes on his affirmation as defense secretary. if confirmed, he would be the first african-american to serve as head of the pentagon. you can follow the senate on c-span 2. >> biden nominees will be on capitol hill next week for their confirmation hearings. tuesday a 10:00 a.m. eastern, rhode island governor gina raimondo, commerce secretary nominee, testifies. and the nominee for secretary of veterans affairs testifies
before the senate veterans affairs committee. watch the confirmation hearings alive on c-span, online at c-span.org, or listen on the c-span radio app. >> saturday on "the communicators," sarah frier, author of "no filter," discusses her book about instagram and its affect on social media. >> you have to think that instagram also reflects all of the celebrities around the world as well and all of the brands -- c-span, i'm sure, has instagram. bloomberg has instagram. all of these accounts are doing instagram. but there are also these homegrown people, these people who otherwise would not have a voice, who are building these audiences without having to go through the normal gatekeepers, becoming a comedian without needing to get bookings.
this is a place where people can just demonstrate what they are good at and build a following and, eventually, become famous. >> author sarah frier, saturday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on "the communicators." on his first full day of office president biden ,signed a series of executive orders and also -- saying things will continue to get worse before they get better. hey -- president biden: hey, dr.. good to see. good afternoon. before i begin today's