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Courtney Announces Support for H.R. 335 Following Conversation with Secretary-Designate Austin

January 21, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, announced that he will vote in favor of H.R. 335, a bill authorizing the statutory exception to appoint Lloyd J. Austin III as President Biden’s Secretary of Defense, when it comes before the House of Representatives this afternoon. The vote comes following today’s bipartisan roundtable discussion between Secretary-designate, retired General Austin and the House Armed Services Committee on the importance of civilian control of the military. During today’s discussion, Courtney spoke directly with Secretary-designate Austin about the importance for the Department of Defense to set a new standard when it comes to consulting Congress on important decisions from department reprogramming, to issues of war and peace, and national defense.

“Secretary-designate Austin and I had a good exchange today, and I welcomed his decision to appear before our bipartisan panel,” said Congressman Courtney. “In particular we focused on the issue of the unlawful diversion of Department of Defense funding to the Department of Homeland Security in 2020, which resulted in $1.5 billion being taken from the National Guard and military construction that Congress had approved pursuant to its Article One powers. Mr. Austin made a strong commitment to me and the full Committee to end that practice, which goes to the heart of the principle of civilian control of our military that the seven-year waiting period is intended to uphold. I look forward to approving his waiver, to his successful confirmation, and to his leadership during this challenging time.”

Yesterday, Rep. Courtney welcomed Secretary-designate Austin’s agreement to engage with the House Armed Services Committee as a “breath of fresh air” following the previous administration’s disregard for Congress’s Article One, Section Eight authority over the military. In his remarks, Courtney noted that the previous administration refused to allow former Secretary James Mattis to appear before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss his nomination as Congress prepared to consider the same waiver under precisely the same circumstances. Click here to read more.