Deputy defense chief to be temporary acting DoD secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist has been asked to serve as the acting secretary of defense for President-elect Joe Biden until a permanent Pentagon chief can be confirmed by the Senate, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Officials said Norquist agreed, and that other defense officials were told of the selection on Wednesday evening. Biden has chosen retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as his Defense secretary, but Austin must receive a waiver from both the House and Senate to be considered for the job.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters not yet announced.

Under the law, a retired service member must be out of the military for seven years in order to be named defense secretary. A Senate confirmation hearing on Austin could be held as soon as Jan. 19, but there could be no vote until a waiver is approved.

It’s not clear how long it will take to get a hearing or congressional approval on the waiver, and a number of lawmakers have expressed concern about having another recently retired general in the top Pentagon post. Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis was President Donald Trump’s first defense secretary.

Norquist is a longtime federal adviser, particularly on financial matters. He has been deputy defense secretary since July 2019, but previously served as the Pentagon’s comptroller. He also previously served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

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