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June 18, 2021
Then-US Vice President Joe Biden (L) meets with General Lloyd Austin, the commander of United States Forces - Iraq (USF-I), and US ambassador in Iraq James Jeffrey (unseen) at the US embassy upon the former's arrival at Baghdad on a surprise visit on November 29, 2011. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Biden picks retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to be his secretary of defense, source says

If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black man to lead the Department of Defense.

In addition to serving as commander of United States Central Command, Austin previously served as the vice chief of staff of the Army.

Politico was first to report on Biden’s selection of Austin. The Biden transition team declined to comment to CNN.

Austin would need a congressional waiver to be confirmed for the civilian post because he retired from active-duty service only four years ago. Federal law requires seven years of retirement from active duty before taking on the role.

Though the use of the waiver is rare, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis received a waiver from Congress in 2017 to serve as President Donald Trump’s defense secretary. Some Democrats in Congress at the time expressed concerns about setting aside the precedent of maintaining civilian leadership in the military, but the waiver was ultimate approved by both chambers, allowing Mattis to serve in the position until his departure in December 2018.

CNN had reported that Austin was among three final contenders for the role. Michèle Flournoy, a veteran Pentagon official who served as under secretary of defense for policy in President Barack Obama’s administration, and Jeh Johnson, a former secretary of Homeland security, were also under consideration.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.