WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after the U.S. Senate voted 93-2 to confirm retired General Lloyd J. Austin III to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement:

“Secretary Austin is a trailblazer who has once again made history.  His ability, integrity, and dynamic leadership earned him a place atop the Pentagon hierarchy.  At every step of his career he’s been a team builder and someone who focuses on the mission, leads by example, and gets the job done.

“Our military reflects society.  Today we celebrate progress while also recognizing we have a long way to go.  The march against bigotry and prejudice is an uphill climb and we must reach higher if we are to raise the banner of true equality to its rightful place.  Secretary Austin is an inspiration to many and someone who will always put the security of our nation, and all who defend it, first.

“Amidst a pandemic and urgent and complex threats, there isn’t a moment to lose.  Secretary Austin’s strong, bipartisan confirmation will help restore direction at a Defense Department that was too often and too long without confirmed leadership under the previous administration.

“He has pledged to go above and beyond in upholding the principle of civilian control of the military and Congress will hold him to that solemn promise.  Secretary Austin’s firsthand experience and personal understanding of the terrible costs of war make him a forceful advocate for peace.  He knows how to harness and leverage soft power to advance America’s interests and that strengthening alliances is a force multiplier.  At the same time, no one should doubt his ability, or President Biden’s resolve, to wield the instruments of deterrence and force to defend America.

“President Biden is fortunate to have someone of Lloyd Austin’s caliber and considerable talents as Secretary of Defense.  When Secretary Austin speaks, foreign leaders know he has a direct line to President Biden and that he is executing the Commander-in-Chief’s defense policy.  That wasn’t always the case under the previous administration and the improved stability will enhance our security.

“I congratulate Secretary Austin and look forward to a cooperative, consultative, and productive relationship with him as we work to strengthen our Armed Forces and alliances, and better align our federal defense resources with the important national security challenges ahead.”