GOP Senators Seek a Timeline of Defense Secretary’s Medical Absence

( – GOP Senators have demanded to know when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin left the Department of Defense due to illness, and for how long he will be absent. Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and other Republican Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee have written to the Pentagon to complain that Austin had given insufficient notice of his absence, which he took responsibility for in a recent statement.

“I understand the media concerns about transparency and I recognize I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed. I commit to doing better,” Mr. Lloyd said.

Republicans now argue that Lloyd’s lack of notice is an “intolerable breach of trust” at a time when US security is threatened.

The Senators demanded to know the precise details of Mr. Lloyd’s incapacitation, and who has made decisions on the Secretary’s behalf during his absence.

According to news reports, Secretary Austin was admitted to hospital on January 1, and then to an intensive care unit after receiving treatment for prostate cancer. The White House said it was not aware of his hospital admission, or his illness, until several days later.

During a press briefing on January 8, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Biden was not informed of his absence until that morning, prompting questions about the nature of America’s national security and vital communications among senior members of the administration. “This is not the way it is supposed to go,” Mr Kirby admitted.

Republicans are furthermore angered that Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks did not inform Congress of his illness.

Lloyd initially underwent a “minimally invasive surgical procedure” at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 22, but returned to hospital on January 1 due to complications, including a urinary tract infection and “abdominal fluid collections impairing the function of his small intestines”. Doctors say they anticipate that Mr. Lloyd will make a full recovery, while acknowledging that this will take some time.

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