Bipartisan members of Congress have fumed over Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin not informing them of his hospitalization. House Republican Chair Elise Stefanik (R.-N.Y.) has called for his resignation, while Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has done the same in the Senate. Former President Trump demanded the resignation of Austin along with Biden. As Axios reports, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been tepid in his condemnation, but said there are “a lot of unanswered questions”. The Democratic Armed Services Committee chair, WJack Reed (D-R.I.)President Biden will continue to support Austin, where he will not fire him and will not accept his resignation, as National Security Spokesman John Kirby stated to reporters.
This will continue to be a significant national security liability for President Biden as he goes into his year of campaigning for reelection. Mr. Biden is frequently thought to have a stable administration with high transparency and minimal turnover. The trouble comes at time where the White House is dealing with the twin security crises of the Invasion of Ukraine and the Israeli-Gaza war.
Secretary Austin went into the hospital for an “elective” procedure, though which procedure is still unknown. Then, he was hospitalized again for “severe pain” on Jan. 1st, where the Washington Post reported that his security detail followed him in the ambulance. Austin’s duties were delegated to his Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, who was vacationing in Puerto Rico. She was reportedly not told that Austin was hospitalized, according to CNN. Austin has resumed his responsibilities but is still in the hospital, as of writing.