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The Latest: Biden: Moment calls for waiver for defense pick

The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

2:05 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he is asking Congress for a waiver to allow for the confirmation of retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin as secretary of defense because the moment calls for it.

Biden said Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware, that he “would not be asking for this exemption if I did not believe this moment in our history didn’t call for it. It does call for it.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon and would need to obtain a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary. Congress intended civilian control of the military when it created the position of secretary of defense in 1947 and prohibited a recently retired military officer from holding the position. Austin retired in 2016.

Biden said there is “no doubt” in his mind that Austin will “honor, respect and on a day-to-day basis breathe life into the preeminent principle of civilian leadership over military matters in our nation.”

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