December 17, 2020

Senator Hirono Meets with Secretary of Defense Nominee Lloyd Austin, Announces Support for His Nomination and NSA Waiver

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee, announced today that she would support a waiver to the National Security Act of 1947 to allow General Lloyd Austin to serve as the next Secretary of Defense after meeting with the nominee.

“After speaking with General Austin today in a meeting that covered a wide range of issues – including our strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region and the importance of diplomacy to our national security – I will support a waiver of the National Security Act for the General to serve as our next Secretary of Defense,” Senator Hirono said. “This is not a decision that I made lightly and I hope the waiver process does not become routine. I will continue to assess each nomination on its merits – just as I did when I supported General Mattis’ nomination in 2017.”

During their meeting, Senator Hirono shared her perspective that the Secretary of Defense should be someone who can question longstanding assumptions and be willing make necessary structural changes at the Department. Senator Hirono and General Austin discussed the need for improvements in how the Department deals with sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation within DOD. They also discussed the importance of diplomacy in strengthening U.S. national security interests around the world. Senator Hirono urged General Austin to prioritize sustained DOD engagement and investment in the Indo-Pacific, including with our allies in the Freely Associated States.

Senator Hirono and General Austin also discussed the importance of continued modernization at our four public shipyards, which includes Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. This modernization is essential to military readiness. General Austin emphasized the importance he would place on housing, child care, mental health care, and other quality of life issues essential to service members and their families.