The Senate just voted on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis to confirm President Biden’s Defense secretary nominee, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin. The vote was 93-2.
That makes Austin the first African American to run the department.
The epic nature of Austin’s journey – from a childhood in deeply segregated Alabama, through a military still plagued with racial inequity, to the pinnacle of US national defense – might be matched only by the scale of the challenges that now face him there.
Austin will be one of the most prominent members of Biden’s Cabinet. The secretary of Defense is in control of the nation’s largest government agency, commanding troops around the world and the complicated internal workings of the Pentagon that make it one of the world’s most formidable bureaucracies.
Defense Department data shows that while Black service members represent 19% of all enlisted personnel, they make up only 9% of the mostly White, male officer corps. Biden noted in The Atlantic that Austin was “the 200th person ever to attain the rank of an Army four-star general, but only the sixth African American.”
Biden vowed his Cabinet would look like the country picking leaders that if confirmed, will make history as the most diverse group ever to lead federal agencies.
Take a look at what Biden’s Cabinet looks like here.
Watch the Senate’s vote: