Democrats attempt to put Pentagon waiver for Lloyd Austin in funding bill

Democrats are trying to add the waiver to a year-end government funding bill that needs to pass tonight.

Gen. Lloyd Austin could potentially be the first Black Defense secretary, but there is a significant hurdle standing in his way.

The formal general, who retired in 2016, needs a waiver because he has not been out of uniform for seven years as required. While part of Congress is on board with granting him the waiver, others aren’t sure.

Democrats are trying to add the waiver to a year-end government funding bill that needs to pass tonight, per Axios.

Read More: Tuskegee Airmen letter throws support to Biden’s Defense nominee Gen. Lloyd Austin

Sources tell the publication if the bill passes, Austin still needs a win from the Senate majority. But during negotiations on Thursday, Democrats pointed out that in 2016, Congress pushed through a waiver for President Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis. It ultimately passed in 2017.

Luckily for Austin, he does have support on his side.

Gen. Lloyd Austin Image: Getty Images

“Democrats oppose policies with disparate impact because we recognize that race matters,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) “How can anyone justify voting for a different outcome for a highly qualified Black man compared to how Mattis was treated, no matter what facially neutral justification there may be?”

In another tweet, he added:

“Austin is a solid & historic candidate to lead the Pentagon, with experience deferring to civilian leadership + understanding the importance of restraint. Voting against a waiver for him, from those who voted yes on a waiver for Mattis, would have a disparate racial impact.”

Read More: Biden selects retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defense

But Sen. Jack Reed, who voted for Mattis to receive a waiver, said, “I will not support a waiver for future nominees.”

Just last week he updated his comments by saying, “One cannot separate the waiver from the individual who has been nominated.”

As reported by Axios, Many Republicans are planning to support granting Austin a waiver. Why? Because they recognize the hypocrisy of not doing so. The Mattis waiver passed 81-17 in the Senate and 268-151 in the House back in 2017.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!