Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 335, the legislation that would allow for General Lloyd J. Austin III to serve as America’s Secretary of Defense.  General Lloyd J. Austin III retired from the United States Military on May 1st, 2016 as a four-star general, and he would be the first African American ever selected to serve as Secretary of Defense.  A legal waiver is required to appoint someone to the Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active military duty, and previous exceptions have been granted to George Marshall in 1950 and James Mattis in 2017.

Lynch stated, “Throughout my tenure on the National Security Subcommittee, I have had numerous opportunities to meet and interact with General Austin in the field in the course of several of our oversight investigations.  In the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom, we met in Kabul during his deployment to Afghanistan as Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-180.  Years later, in the midst of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, I met General Austin in Baghdad during his multiple deployments as Commander of the Multi-National Corps and Commander of United States Forces-Iraq.  I have also received intelligence briefings from General Austin in his capacity as Commander of U.S. Central Command – the first African American to lead this critically important combat command. 

Throughout multiple congressional investigations into the progress of U.S. military, diplomatic, and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other regional conflicts, General Austin never failed to provide us with the straight, honest and hard facts as he saw them on the ground.  His assessments proved to be critical to our oversight mission and the development of legislation concerning U.S. defense, national security, and counterterrorism policies.  Moreover, he always demonstrated 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.  

The defense and security of our nation will be well-served by General Austin’s leadership as President Biden’s Secretary of Defense.”