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house Bill H.R. 335

Should Congress Grant General Austin a Waiver to Serve as Secretary of Defense?

Argument in favor

General Austin served the Army with distinction prior to his retirement and is an impeccable choice to serve as Secretary of Defense. His record merits a waiver, and there’s no reason to think he would undermine the tradition of civilian control of the military.

jimK's Opinion
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01/21/2021
Yes, grant the waiver. We need a Department of Defense headed by someone who understands the needs of our troops and the risks that our military may face. Biden has a strong enough history with the military needs to spot any issues of potential favoritism of the DOD based upon the Defense Chief’s old friendships with military leaders. General Austin has been out of the military for five of the seven years of the statute - close enough to get someone with his experience to fill this critical role. The risks to our country are current and in some cases quite active - we need a responsible and knowledgeable person like General Austin to assume this responsibility and not some political appointee without current operational knowledge of military needs and current operational risks.
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larubia's Opinion
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01/21/2021
General Austin has been retired for the same amount of time as me! Five years is a long time in today’s fast paced, quickly changing world. I believe the waiver should be granted to this man who served with distinction!
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Dave's Opinion
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01/21/2021
They did it for Jim Mattis, why not for him. I have Faith in Biden, never in Trump!
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Argument opposed

General Austin shouldn’t be granted a waiver, as civilian control of the military is too important a tradition to gamble on a general who only retired five years ago. Biden should nominate someone else who has been out of the military for at least seven years.

burrkitty's Opinion
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01/21/2021
Edit: Folks, saying “Trump did it, so Biden can too” isn’t a good argument. Trump is not, was not, and cannot EVER be a example we strive to emulate. Literally, Trump was the best example of EXACTLY WHAT NOT TO DO. I’m also for the bright line between civilian and military. The civilian side of the Department of Defense has lost both civilian influence and respect over the last several years. The military needs to be firmly controlled by civilian leadership. Defense Secretary’s think about defense and security in policy terms and not just in what we might think of as practical military terms. It is a short step to the belief that only professional military officers know how to govern military forces. That’s a mistake we don’t want to make. That way lies a even more unaccountable military. PS my rep will almost certainly vote against the waiver, but not for any reason other than partisanship. Dead clocks are still on time twice a day, right? .
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Dorothy's Opinion
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01/21/2021
Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex. That was wisdom from experience and a military career. The line should be maintained and respected between Civilian control and military. Difficult to believe that there is not one person with the integrity and qualifications for this position except a military man
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B.R.'s Opinion
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01/21/2021
No waivers. If you think the law is inappropriate, then change the law, but the change should be applied consistently and fairly for all, not just a chosen few.
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    Yes, grant the waiver. We need a Department of Defense headed by someone who understands the needs of our troops and the risks that our military may face. Biden has a strong enough history with the military needs to spot any issues of potential favoritism of the DOD based upon the Defense Chief’s old friendships with military leaders. General Austin has been out of the military for five of the seven years of the statute - close enough to get someone with his experience to fill this critical role. The risks to our country are current and in some cases quite active - we need a responsible and knowledgeable person like General Austin to assume this responsibility and not some political appointee without current operational knowledge of military needs and current operational risks.
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    Edit: Folks, saying “Trump did it, so Biden can too” isn’t a good argument. Trump is not, was not, and cannot EVER be a example we strive to emulate. Literally, Trump was the best example of EXACTLY WHAT NOT TO DO. I’m also for the bright line between civilian and military. The civilian side of the Department of Defense has lost both civilian influence and respect over the last several years. The military needs to be firmly controlled by civilian leadership. Defense Secretary’s think about defense and security in policy terms and not just in what we might think of as practical military terms. It is a short step to the belief that only professional military officers know how to govern military forces. That’s a mistake we don’t want to make. That way lies a even more unaccountable military. PS my rep will almost certainly vote against the waiver, but not for any reason other than partisanship. Dead clocks are still on time twice a day, right? .
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    General Austin has been retired for the same amount of time as me! Five years is a long time in today’s fast paced, quickly changing world. I believe the waiver should be granted to this man who served with distinction!
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    The requirement for a cooling off period between military retirement and political appointments has only existed since 1947 National Security Act and originally was for 10 years but was reduced to 7 years in 2008. It has been waived twice, 1st by Truman to appoint George Marshall in 1950, and again in 2017 by Trump to appoint James Mattis so there is precedence for the waiver. The option of waiver exists for flexibility but the intent of the legislation is to incentivize the President to pick from a pool of those without recent military experience. There are strong arguments for (precedence, presidential team choice) & against (change regulation, another qualified candidate). Since Austin has been out of the military 5 of the required 7 years he is close to the Title 10 of the United States Code requirement. Much depends on the persons adaptability. Looking at General Flynn who has never really adapted to civilian life after 7 years of retirement. Give Austin the chance and if it’s misused like Flynn revoke it. https://www.defensenews.com/smr/transition/2020/11/30/after-trump-congress-could-chafe-at-retired-officers-leading-the-pentagon/ https://www.lawfareblog.com/whats-stake-austin-waiver
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    They did it for Jim Mattis, why not for him. I have Faith in Biden, never in Trump!
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    Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex. That was wisdom from experience and a military career. The line should be maintained and respected between Civilian control and military. Difficult to believe that there is not one person with the integrity and qualifications for this position except a military man
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    No waivers. If you think the law is inappropriate, then change the law, but the change should be applied consistently and fairly for all, not just a chosen few.
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    I never understood this rule anyway. Why keep a four star General out of the job when his knowledge and experience are current and useful now. Why wait seven years until it’s outdated or moot? Pass this.
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    No. I am tired of our leadership using a life or death rationale as a quick fix. One of the first acts of this restart should not send with it a message of hypocrisy or double-standards. It was wrong for Biden to nominate someone whose confirmation would require a newly elected Senate Majority to be on the wrong side of a ethical dilemma. Think back to the 116 Congress who sent a similar party before country message after the 2018 election and how many seats that message cost the Democrats in 2020 House races! Democrats cannot fly by the seat of their pants or on empty platitudes this time. The stakes are too high. Dems must work to be seen as the party of decisive leadership and one focus on meeting the needs of Americans before that of the party. Otherwise, 2022 will be a blood bath that could very well lead to Trump’s re-election in 2024. Biden has said he has the experience to lead, and that he is determined to bring back dignity. Americans need to hold Biden to his promises.
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    This is a tough call. The reason for the time from separation from the military to service in a civilian government job is to give time for the person to mentally make the transition from military to civilian life. The headsets and ways of thinking are different. While General Austin may do a very good job, to grant a waiver this soon after the waiver for General Mattis risks weakening the policy and the wisdom behind it.
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    He's qualified. He's vastly experienced. He's available. He's not a Trump nominee. Certainly grant him a waiver.
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    As a former member of the military, I can attest to the fact that there is a very good reason these requirements were created in the first place. Not sure why Mattis was given a waiver but Austin shouldn't be either.
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    I have no knowledge of Austin and the man he is......Apparently, Marshall and Mattis, both military men, have been put in this position before...so there is precedent. I trust several of the people that are for this...Biden, of course, Blumenthal, Warren......Cotton, however, is a bit concerning. I would like to know more about the man before I make a decision.
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    This is a far cry from the ‘exceptions’ made by dumbkopf admin which made its exceptions on fealty, nepotism, corruption and never on qualifications or merit
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    WTF! A vote to ‘provide a waiver so General Austin may serve as Secretary of Defense’, shouldn’t be that hard. Even my seditionist and traitor Sen. cruz and wimp Sen. cornyn voted ‘Yea’. Rep. kevin brady stood up and showed off his gonads with a ‘bigly’ ‘Not Voting’⁉️. I’m F’ing paying you to do a job and you can’t even do that ‼️👎🖕.
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    President Biden should thoroughly justify his choice for SecDef. It is very important to hold Biden to very standards now, right at the beginning. Unlike some others here, I believe Biden must prove himself rather than naively be given the benefit of the doubt. Let's pay attention. Let's continue to think critically. Let's not be placated by "a flurry of Executive Orders." With respect due to General Austin, I agree with the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have expressed opposition to granting a waiver for General Austin, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). See Senator Duckworth's statement linked to in the lede. Senator Duckworth pointed out that the waiting period was changed from 10 to 7 years without debate. Now there is precedent to circumvent even that waiting period. OK. Justify it! Explain it! There are reasons why McConnell “gets along” with Biden, that alone should set off alarms. I'm not OK with the “Good Old Boys’ Club.” [Original comment edited with additions.]
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    I believe he will do a great job and listen along with abide by civilian input. He advanced in the military abiding by rules set by cooperation between military and civilian advisors. Also you don’t get this high up in rank by not following all procedures or not being intelligent. Yes grant the waiver. He would do a great job.
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    I feel strongly that we need to maintain a line between civilian and military control of the DoD. Please do not support a waiver. We must not be hypocritical.
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    Without a doubt there’s no reason to even discuss it
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    I think that given the country’s current situation this waiver should be approved. Normally, I would be all for the normal 7 year cooling off period but these are not normal times. President Biden is well aware that he needs the most qualified person as Secretary of Defense and General Austin fits that role. Please do pass that waiver. The country needs this to happen.
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