The Senate reconvened today and began to hold hearings on nominees by Joe Biden to various cabinet positions in his new administration.
A Vox article last week complained that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was attempting to “sabotage” the incoming administration by not holding hearings, while the House of Representatives was in the middle of proceeding with the impeachment of President Trump.
One of the picks by the former Vice President, Retired Army General Lloyd Austin, who would become the first black defense secretary, pledged that if confirmed, he would “fight hard… to rid our ranks of racists and extremists.”
Austin pledged “to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity.”
“The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks,” Austin added.
Reuters noted that Austin’s remarks came minutes after the Pentagon confirmed that 12 members of the National Guard had been removed from duty ahead of Democrat Biden’s inauguration today following vetting, which apparently included scrubbing them for ties to “extremism.”
The remarks were unsettling to many on both sides of the aisle, as it could be hard to define who is an extremist.
A Bernie Sanders supporter, Patrick Durusau, tweeted, “I wonder how he defines ‘extremists?’ Anyone?”
I wonder how he defines "extremists?" Anyone?— Patrick Durusau ⏳ (@patrickDurusau) January 19, 2021
Twitter user “Gàstarbeiteur” suggested, “And all conservatives too when nobody’s looking.”
And all conservatives too when nobody's looking.— Gàstarbeiteur (@drmring1) January 19, 2021
Another Twitter user, Victor Godwin, wondered, “And how will he do that? Will they be made to take a loyalty test to the Demoncratic party?”
And how will he do that? Will they be made to take a loyalty test to the Demoncratic party? 🤔— Victor Godwin (@BigGoddy2001) January 19, 2021
Austin reportedly would require a waiver from Congress to be confirmed since he has not been out of uniform long enough, a rule meant to safeguard civilian control of the U.S. armed forces.
The House is expected to vote tomorrow on whether to grant the waiver, according to the chamber’s schedule.
A recent New York Times article, covered by National File, said that the Pentagon was planning to accelerate efforts to root out “Far-Right Extremism” in the ranks.
General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “These people are not representative of our country’s military. There was some indication that an unknown number of veterans associated with the insurrection.”
Many would contend that there may be extremists on the left in the military and veterans as well, like Micah Johnson, who killed 4 police officers in Dallas, Texas in a 2015 massacre at a Black Lives Matter rally.
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