First Democrat in Congress Joins Calls for Defense Secretary’s Resignation

Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin
Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin (Getty Images)
January 11, 2024

Rep. Chris Deluzio (D., Pa.) on Wednesday became the first Democrat in Congress to call for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who did not disclose for days his ongoing hospitalization.

"I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command," Deluzio, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

"I have a solemn duty in Congress to conduct oversight of the Defense Department through my service on the House Armed Services Committee," Deluzio continued. "That duty today requires me to call on Secretary Austin to resign. I thank Secretary Austin for his leadership and years of dedicated service to the American people and wish him a speedy recovery."

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center revealed Tuesday that Austin underwent a procedure in December to treat prostate cancer. He checked into the hospital on Jan. 1 after he developed complications from the procedure, including a urinary tract infection and a collection of fluid in his abdomen.

Austin did not inform the public of the December procedure or the New Year's Day admission to the hospital until Jan. 5. Neither National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan nor President Joe Biden were aware of his condition until Jan. 4. Biden learned of Austin's prostate cancer on Tuesday, the same day as the American people.

Austin has faced calls for his resignation from some Republicans, including Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), and former president Donald Trump.

Deluzio's statement comes days after the White House said Biden had no plans to fire Austin and after news broke that the president reportedly would not even accept his resignation if he offered it. Austin's secret hospitalization came amid attacks from Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis on commercial vessels and military craft in the Red Sea, as well as from other Iranian proxies on United States military personnel in Iraq and Syria.