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Top House Democrat raises concerns about Biden’s likely defense secretary pick



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A Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee expressed concerns on Tuesday about President-elect Joe Biden‘s likely pick for Secretary of Defense, retired General Lloyd Austin. Fox News reported Monday night that Biden is set to make the announcement this week.

In a Twitter thread, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) wrote that picking Gen. Austin, a retired four-star general, “just feels off,” saying that the cabinet position is traditionally reserved for civilians. Slotkin is a former CIA analyst who served three tours of duty in the Iraq War during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“I have deep respect for Gen. Lloyd Austin. We worked together when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, when he was vice chief of the Army, and when he was the CENTCOM commander,” Slotkin said in a Twitter statement. “But choosing another recently retired general to serve in a role designed for a civilian just feels off.”

“The job of secretary of defense is purpose-built to ensure civilian oversight of the military,” Slotkin stressed. “That is why it requires a waiver from the House and Senate to put a recently retired military officer in the job.”

“And after the last 4 years, civil-military relations at the Pentagon definitely need to be rebalanced,” she added. “Gen. Austin has had an incredible career––but I’ll need to understand what he and the Biden Administration plan to do to address these concerns before I can vote for his waiver.”

Previously during the Trump administration, retired four-star Gen. Jim Mattis served for a period of time as Secretary of Defense. President Trump also appointed former Marines Corps Gen. John Kelly to be his Secretary of Homeland Security and then his White House chief of staff, as well as retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor. Significantly, Mattis was the first retired military officer to serve as defense secretary in seven decades.

This public statement comes from a member of Biden’s moderate wing of the Democratic Party, a congresswoman who is also a military veteran and member of the intelligence community,.

If Austin is in fact appointed, he will need a special waiver approved by both chambers of Congress because of a federal law that bans retired officers from serving as secretary of defense for at least seven years after they retire from the military. After this approval, Austin would then need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He would be the first Black American to serve in this cabinet position.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden Administration Proposes Rule to Fortify Federal Bureaucracy Against Republican Presidency



Joe Biden

In a strategic move, the Biden administration has unveiled a proposed rule aimed at reinforcing the left-leaning federal bureaucracy, potentially hindering future conservative policy implementations by Republican presidents. This move has raised concerns about the efficacy of democratic elections when a deep-seated bureaucracy remains largely unchanged, regardless of electoral outcomes.

Key points of the situation include:

Presidential Appointees vs. Career Bureaucrats: Of the 2.2 million federal civil workers, only 4,000 are presidential appointees. The vast majority, made up of career bureaucrats, continue in their roles from one administration to the next. This continuity is facilitated by rules that make it exceedingly difficult to discipline or replace them, resulting in a bureaucracy that tends to lean left politically.

Union Political Affiliation: A striking 95% of unionized federal employees who donate to political candidates support Democrats, according to Open Secrets, with only 5% favoring Republicans. This significant political skew among federal workers raises questions about the potential for political bias in the execution of government policies.

Obstructionism and Challenges for GOP Presidents: Some career bureaucrats have been accused of obstructing Republican presidents’ agendas, leading to policy delays and challenges. For example, during the Trump administration, career lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to challenge Yale University’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, prompting Trump to seek legal counsel from other divisions. The case was subsequently dropped when Joe Biden took office.

Biden’s Countermeasures: President Biden has taken steps to protect the bureaucracy’s status quo. In October 2020, Trump issued an executive order aiming to reclassify federal workers who make policy as at-will employees, but Biden canceled it upon taking office.

Proposed Rule and Congressional Actions: The rule unveiled by the Biden administration seeks to further impede a president’s ability to reinstate Trump’s order. Additionally, some Democrats in Congress are pushing to eliminate the president’s authority to reclassify jobs entirely. This has been referred to as an attempt to “Trump-proof the federal workforce.”

Republican Candidates’ Pledge: GOP candidates such as President Donald J Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis have pledged to address this issue. According to reports from Fox News, Ramaswamy has gone further, advocating for the elimination of half or more of civil service positions, emphasizing the need for accountability.

Debate on the Merit of the Civil Service: While Democrats and their media allies argue that civil service protects merit over patronage, critics contend that the system has evolved into a form of job security for federal workers with minimal accountability. Federal employees often receive higher salaries and more substantial benefits than their private-sector counterparts.

In summary, the Biden administration’s proposed rule and broader actions to protect the federal bureaucracy have sparked a debate over the role of career bureaucrats in shaping government policy.

Republican candidates are vowing to address these concerns, highlighting the need for accountability and ensuring that government agencies work in alignment with the elected president’s agenda. This ongoing debate raises important questions about the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democratic process in the United States.

Information in this article was retrieved from Fox News.

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