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Defense Secretary Austin testifies before GOP House on unannounced hospital stay

"Unfortunately, this leads me to believe that information is being withheld from Congress," the committee chairman said in a letter inviting Austin to testify last month.

Published: February 29, 2024 7:35am

Updated: February 29, 2024 10:43am

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday will publicly face Congress for the first time to address his secrecy surrounding his hospitalization last month due following prostate cancer surgery complications, which even President Joe Biden was unaware of until several days into Austin's stay.

Austin is expected to hear pointed questions and receive criticism from the House Armed Services Committee for not disclosing his hospital stay for days, including from Biden and other top administration officials, per The Associated Press

"I am alarmed you refused to answer whether you instructed your staff to not inform the President of the United States or anyone else of your hospitalization," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said in a letter last month inviting Austin to testify. "Unfortunately, this leads me to believe that information is being withheld from Congress."

The lack of communication about Austin's state has led to questions about whether there was a lapse in the control of the U.S. armed forces, including the country's nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon has said there were not any gaps in control because Austin transferred his duties to the deputy secretary.

In early January, Austin took responsibility for not alerting the public for five days about his hospitalization. When he was hospitalized earlier this month, he transferred command to his deputy.

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