Waltz Confronts Secretary Austin Over 'Unacceptable' Behavior

Waltz Confronts Secretary Austin Over 'Unacceptable' Behavior

“How long does it take a hypersonic missile, as a first strike weapon, to hit the United States?”

Daniel Molina
Daniel Molina
|
March 1, 2024

Ahead of questioning Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Florida Rep. Mike Waltz (R) called on Secretary Austin to resign from office. During the hearing, Rep. Waltz confronted Secretary Austin, chiding his "unacceptable" decision to not inform President Joe Biden (D) that he was "incapacitated."

Secretary Austin's hospitalization and failure to notify the president has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans, who've warned of the dangers that could've befallen the country. Before questioning the Secretary of Defense this week, Rep. Waltz clarified that the hearing was about “the chain of command and civilian oversight of the most powerful military in the world that’s charged with keeping the American people safe.”

According to Secretary Austin's report, he reported that “given the inability to provide timely communication to the secretary while in critical care, the secretary’s military assistance agree that the transfer authority to the deputy secretary was necessary.”

Affirming that he was able to make that decision himself given that he would be inaccessible, the secretary expressed that transferring authorities is "a trip wire," but the necessary procedure was followed. However, when questioned if President Biden knew that he would be inaccessible on both January 1st and 2nd, the secretary responded with "he did not."

“The commander-in-chief elected by the American people – civilian oversight of the military – didn’t know on January 1st, didn’t know on January 2nd, January 3rd comes around, does the president know?” Rep. Waltz further questioned. “How long does it take a hypersonic missile, as a first strike weapon, to hit the United States?”

The secretary did not respond to hypothetical threat. Instead, he commented that “we’ve been clear the notification was not accurate.”

This was not a satisfactory answer for the Florida Republican as he assured that the issue was “not about process. This is about judgement, and poor judgement… you’ve held yourself to a different standard, and that’s unacceptable.”

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Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina is an award-winning senior reporter based in Miami. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Florida International University. His hobbies include reading, writing, and watching films.

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