Watch Live: Lloyd Austin, Biden’s Defense Secretary nominee, testifies at confirmation hearing

General Lloyd Austin, President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be defense secretary, is testifying Tuesday in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the eve of Mr. Biden’s inauguration. If confirmed by the Senate, Austin will be the first Black man to lead the Pentagon.

Since Austin, a four-star general with four decades of service in the Army, retired from military service only four years ago, he will need a waiver from both the Senate and the House to enter the Cabinet. To obtain the waiver, Austin has agreed to testify in front of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

How to watch Lloyd Austin’s confirmation hearing today

  • What: Biden Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee

  • Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2021

  • Time: 3 p.m. ET

  • Location: U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.

  • Online stream: Live in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

Congressman Adam Schiff on Monday sent a letter to House Democrats urging them to approve Austin’s waiver, saying it would be a “grave mistake” if they don’t. 

Federal law states that a member of the military can’t serve as secretary of defense within seven years of retirement from service, in order to ensure civilian control of the Pentagon. Only two other secretaries have received the waiver, General George Marshall in 1950 during the Truman administration and General James Mattis in 2017.  

Austin will testify on the Hill at a time when the building is fortified by thousands of National Guard members and as questions involving the armed services following the assault on the Capitol continue to be raised. Following the unrest, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued an extraordinary letter reminding service members that the military’s role is to support a peaceful transfer of power. 

Austin will likely face questions about decisions the Trump administration has recently made to draw down troops in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller confirmed last week that troop levels are down to 2,500 in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senators also could focus on the Defense Department’s budget, which is due to Congress in February, or on the impending decisions Biden’s administration will have to make, including whether or not to extend the New START Treaty, which expires in February.

Until Austin is confirmed, David Norquist who has been the deputy Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration since July 2019, will be the acting secretary in the Biden administration. 

Without an impeachment, the number of days between a confirmation hearing and a confirmation vote for a Secretary of Defense in 2017 was eight days. An impending Senate impeachment trial could mean Mr. Biden might have to wait longer to have his chosen department leaders in key areas in place. 

Note: Streaming plans are subject to change 

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