After Vice President Kamala Harris, General (retired) Lloyd Austin has created history when he was approved by the US Senate to become defense secretary, the first Black American to serve in the role.
The 100-member Senate voted overwhelmingly in favour of Austin — 93-2 – after the Congress approved him to lead Pentagon.
Republican Senators Mike Lee and Josh Hawley were the only ones to vote against Austin.
Austin was picked as defense secretary just two days after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
Democrats, and some Republicans, have been pushing to confirm the new president’s national security team as quickly as possible as the US has been facing challenges at home and globally.
Senator Jack Reed, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, noted that China and Russia needed urgent attention.
“General Austin is an exceptionally qualified leader with a long and distinguished career in the U.S. military,” he said before the vote.
“We have China and Russia out there with capabilities that we didn’t really believe we would find ourselves with,” said Senator James Inhofe, the outgoing Republican chairman of the armed services panel, also urging support for Austin.
Earlier, the Congress overwhelmingly approved a waiver for Austin as he had not cleared the required seven-year waiting period since retirement from armed services.
Austin, 67, during his distinguished four-decade career in uniform, also led Central Command, which oversees US troops across the Middle East.
He retired from the army in 2016.
Harris is the first woman and first South Asian American to become vice president.