WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 335, the legal exception necessary to appoint General Lloyd J. Austin III as President Biden’s Secretary of Defense. A statutory exception to the limitation contained in Section 113(a) of Title 10, United States Code, is necessary to allow a person who served on active duty as a commissioned officer in one of the regular components of the Armed Forces within the previous seven years to be appointed as the Secretary of Defense. Secretary-designate Austin retired from the military in May 2016, and thus falls short of the seven-year “cooling off” requirement. Only two exceptions have been previously granted, the most recent in 2017 to James Mattis.
“I have tremendous respect for General Austin’s lifetime of service to country, experience and extraordinary qualifications. And while I also celebrate the historic nature of his nomination, I am wary about waiving this requirement,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “Civilian control over the military is a fundamental principle that must be protected to safeguard our democracy. This is not a partisan issue or a personal issue – my position would remain the same no matter who a candidate is, or who nominates them. While I would be open to considering amending the rule, I believe we should refrain from making these types of exceptions. Although I do not support this waiver, I look forward to working with the Biden administration as they work to move our country forward .”
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.