WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after voting to confirm President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Defense nominee, retired U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin:
“I am acutely aware of the degree to which the previous administration undermined many fundamental principles of our democracy. With this in mind, I took the vetting and confirmation of Lloyd Austin very seriously given the requirement that he obtain a waiver to serve as Secretary of Defense. In my initial conversation with Austin, I was impressed by his understanding of the need to reinforce principles of democratic governance and his commitment to civilian control over the U.S. military.
“During the confirmation process, I pressed Austin on the importance of prioritizing defense modernization in order to meet current and future national security challenges. Austin displayed a commitment to investing in the type of capabilities we need to ensure our men and women in uniform never encounter a fair fight with near peer adversaries.
“I also questioned Austin on defense interests relevant to New Mexico including the long-term viability of Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. I have long-fought for these installations that support New Mexico's men and women in uniform and job-creating initiatives throughout the state – and I expect the same from the head of our Defense Department.
“Austin has served his country with distinction. While on active duty with the U.S. Army, then-General Austin displayed steadfast leadership and strategic acumen in several senior command posts including his time leading U.S. Central Command. He has deep knowledge of the inner workings of the Pentagon having served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
“After weighing the qualifications, policy positions, and answers from Austin, I am pleased to vote to confirm him as our next Secretary of Defense. I look forward to working with Secretary Austin on these issues and more in New Mexico, domestically, and abroad.”