Congressional Black Caucus backs Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after calls for resignation

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus support Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, who has faced backlash for not alerting the proper officials after being hospitalized.

In a statement obtained by theGrio, CBC Chairman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., stated, “The CBC fully supports Secretary Austin remaining in his role, and we strongly push back against efforts to politicize a deeply personal and private health diagnosis.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks with reporters after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon Monday in Washington. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

“We can all certainly provide some level of privacy in the initial aftermath of a cancer diagnosis, and we encourage others towards decency in this moment,” he wrote.

“Calls for Secretary Austin to resign or face impeachment proceedings are rushed judgments,” the chairman continued.

The CBC’s comments come after U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-Pa., called for Austin to after the White House and other senior-level officials announced they were unaware of his hospitalization.

Austin underwent a procedure for prostate cancer on Dec. 22. While he entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Jan 1. following complications, the White House said it wasn’t aware of his hospitalization until Jan. 4.

Deluzio took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and stated, “I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., told theGrio, “First, they wanted to pay him $1 for his salary. Now, they want to oust him because he had a speed bump in notifying the President and has acknowledged the need to do better.”

CBC Chairman Steven Horsford,
Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) speaks during a news conference about the Justice For All Act outside the U.S. Capitol March 9, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ivey continued. “Impeachment?  President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, now Secretary Austin, who’s next, FLOTUS or Secretary Blinken?  The serious business of governing requires the serious intention by Members not to abuse the founders’ purpose for impeachment powers by the House of Representatives,” he said.

“Doing this to a 41-year military man and public servant is a low blow.  I wish Secretary Austin a speedy and full recovery from his cancer,” added Ivey.

U.S. Rep. Horsford said in a statement, “Secretary Austin has taken full responsibility on the need to keep the public informed and the need to do better.”

“A higher standard does exist for public officials, for which Secretary Austin and the DoD have stated that the Secretary’s hospitalization could have been communicated sooner,” he said.

“The Secretary’s office has now changed its policy to ensure that it notifies everyone of why authorities are being temporarily transferred — not just when,” he continued.

Horsford added, “Secretary Austin has served our nation honorably in and out of uniform for more than 41 years, including during his tenure leading the Department of Defense.” 

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Autin,
In this Sept. 16, 2015, photo, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin III, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

“He has restored a sense of calmness to the DoD that has been crucial during turbulent times, and he has been and continues to be a dedicated public servant,” he added.

As for Austin’s recovery following his medical emergency, Horsford and other members of the CBC stated they are “pleased to hear that Secretary Austin’s cancer was diagnosed early and that his prognosis is positive.”

They continued, “Prostate cancer is a common and serious concern for men, particularly 1 in every 6 Black men, and we hope that Secretary Austin makes a full and speedy recovery,” the statement continued.

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The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced their support for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, who has come under fire for not informing officials about his hospitalization after undergoing a procedure for prostate cancer. The CBC Chairman, Steven Horsford, defended Austin, stating that calls for his resignation or impeachment are rushed judgments and that there should be some level of privacy in the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis. U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio had called for Austin’s resignation due to lack of transparency about his medical treatment, while Rep. Glenn Ivey criticized the rush to oust Austin and questioned the misuse of impeachment powers. The CBC has also expressed their hope for Austin’s quick and full recovery, acknowledging the seriousness of prostate cancer, particularly in Black men. Horsford emphasized that Austin has taken full responsibility for the lack of communication about his hospitalization and has implemented a new policy to ensure that authorities are notified if there is a need to temporarily transfer responsibilities. Overall, the CBC stands firmly in support of Austin’s continued service and positive prognosis.

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