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US Congress approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon chief nominee

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-01-22 09:32
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New Commander of US Forces in Iraq Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin speaks during a change of command ceremony at Camp Victory US military base in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept 1, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

WASHINGTON -- The US Congress on Thursday approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star general, to serve as President Joe Biden's defense secretary.

In a 69-27 vote, the Senate removed the final obstacle before the upper chamber votes on Austin's actual confirmation.

Earlier on Thursday, the House of Representatives easily passed the waiver in its own 326-78 vote. The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced both the waiver and Austin's nomination to the Senate floor.

Austin, 67, would be the first African American to run the Pentagon, the federal government's largest agency, if confirmed by the upper chamber.

Congress has to pass a waiver to allow Austin, who retired in 2016, to take the job, as a US law requires Pentagon chiefs to be out of the military for at least seven years.

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