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Congress will consider Biden's defense secretary pick after quickly waiving civilian requirement

Both the House and Senate have approved a special waiver needed for President Biden's defense secretary pick to be considered for confirmation.

Leading the Pentagon is a job meant for a civilian, but Biden's pick for the the job, Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin, has only been out of the military for five years. That meant that, like when former President Donald Trump named Ret. Gen. James Mattis to the position in 2017, both the House and Senate would have to vote on a waiver to the civilian requirement allowing Austin to take the role before he's been out of the service for seven years.

The House voted overwhelmingly to approve Austin's waiver on Thursday, 326-78, sending it to the Senate within an hour. The Senate approved the waiver shortly after, with both Republicans and Democrats objecting.

Thursday's vote doesn't mean Austin will become defense secretary, but is a good indicator of the majority he'll end up receiving once his nomination goes before the Senate. If confirmed, Austin will be the first Black defense secretary. Austin is a former head of U.S. Central Command, and was on the board of the military technology company Raytheon after leaving the service.