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Opinion
Kori Schake

Don’t Bend the Rules for Biden’s Pentagon Pick

There’s no need to allow a recent retired general to serve as Defense Secretary and many reasons not to violate a crucial norm. 

Biden’s pre-existing relationship with Austin doesn’t justify making an exception. 

Biden’s pre-existing relationship with Austin doesn’t justify making an exception. 

Photographer: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

The five members of President-elect Joe Biden’s national-security team who will be considered by the Senate today are all calm, competent professionals with stellar qualifications. Senators should reject one of them, though: proposed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III.

Austin is a former general who retired from the military less than seven years ago. That actually makes his appointment illegal. For him to assume the post, both houses of Congress will need to pass legislation making an exception for him. Only twice since 1947 have similar laws been passed, for George Marshall in 1950 and Jim Mattis in 2016.