4:19 PM EST, January 21, 2021, By Scott Atkinson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) – North country congresswoman Elise Stefanik voted Thursday to support a waiver for the former commander of the 10th Mountain Division, retired General Lloyd Austin.

The waiver allows the Senate to consider the nomination of Austin for Secretary of Defense.

“General Austin has a strong record of leadership throughout four decades of honorable military service,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“It is particularly encouraging for my constituents in the North Country to have a former 10th Mountain Division commander with a deep understanding of the unique strengths of Fort Drum serve as secretary.”

The waiver is required because of a rule which says a member of the military must be retired for at least seven years before they can be considered for the post of Secretary of Defense. General Austin only retired in 2016.

The rule exists to help guarantee final control over the military remains in civilian hands.

“While I support the waiver for General Austin and supported the waiver for General James Mattis in 2017, I believe we must re-embrace civilian leadership and control of the military to uphold the civil-military relationship that has persevered for generations,” Stefanik said.

General Austin served as the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division from 2003 to 2005 – a time when soldiers saw constant deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He went on to other high-ranking roles, including Vice Chief of Staff of the United State Army and commander of United States Central Command.

His leadership ability has been touted by those who have worked with him, including John McHugh, former north country congressman and former Army Secretary, who said Austin has the temperament and experience that would be necessary for the job.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Austin could be confirmed by the Senate by the end of the week.

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