Thursday’s votes cleared the way for final confirmation in the Senate. Friday’s vote was 93-2. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri were the only two no votes.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday that the Senate should “pause and reflect” on the fact that Congress has granted waivers to both the Trump and Biden administrations to confirm defense secretaries.
“The law that we keep waiving actually exists for a good reason,” McConnell said. “Civilian control of the military is a fundamental principle of our republic. We emphatically do not want high-ranking military service to become a tacit prerequisite for civilian leadership posts over the Department of Defense.”
In the run-up to his confirmation vote, Austin has worked to overcome objections from some lawmakers to allowing a recently retired general to assume the top civilian post at the Pentagon.
“I understand and respect the reservations some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense,” he said at the hearing. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil.”
This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments Friday.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.