Congress has sent President Biden the first bill that he'll sign into law, a measure to allow retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defense. Both the House and Senate on Thursday easily passed a waiver that would allow Austin to hold the position, clearing the way for him to be confirmed as defense secretary by week’s end. The action on Austin's nomination comes despite bipartisan concerns about preserving civilian control of the military. Lawmakers had to approve a waiver for Austin because he retired from the service within the last seven years. He would be the first Black secretary of defense in U.S. history.President Donald Trump's first defense secretary, James Mattis, also required such a waiver upon his nomination.Austin, a former four-star general, was the 12th head of Central Command from 2013 through 2016 under President Barack Obama. Austin followed Mattis in leading Central Command. He also served as the vice chief of staff of the Army.

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