WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today issued the following statement on the nomination of retired 4-star Army General Lloyd Austin as the Biden Administration Secretary of Defense.

“I enthusiastically support President-elect Joe Biden’s selection for Secretary of Defense. General Austin is a crisis-tested leader, who has experience working with the former Vice President, and I believe he will serve him well as a close and trusted advisor on defense issues.  His leadership is especially needed as the Department of Defense will be faced with its traditional role of overseeing military readiness and deployments, while it takes on the added responsibility of non-traditional roles like deploying the COVID-19 vaccine and assisting with the growing need for natural disaster response.

“I commend President-elect Biden for this historic pick.  Our nation is at an inflection point.  While African Americans are overrepresented in the numbers serving in the armed forces, they are underrepresented in the upper echelons. There are disturbing reports of white supremacist actions in the military ranks and of disproportionate numbers of disciplinary actions against Black service members compared to their white counterparts. General Austin is uniquely qualified and well positioned to address the disparities in racial representation in our military academies and throughout the leadership in all branches of the service.

“General Austin and I met when he worked previously with Congressional Black Caucus members on diversity issues in the military. I have spoken with him in recent days, and I believe he is the right person to lead the DOD at this critical time.”