Def Sec Austin Agrees To Testify Before Congress About Secretive Hospitalization
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin waits for the arrival of Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale during a honor cordon at the Pentagon on February 07, 2024 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has agreed to testify before Congress about his secretive hospitalization for complications following a procedure to treat prostate cancer, according to a House panel.

A spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee told the media on Tuesday that the Department of Defense (DoD) “confirmed” Austin would appear before the panel on February 29 to discuss “his failure to disclose his hospitalization.”

Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) sent a letter to Austin last month, calling on the secretary to testify because of his “unwillingness to provide candid and complete answers” sought by the committee. Although he initially picked February 14 for a hearing, Rogers told POLITICO that Austin had a “date conflict.”

Austin, 70, faced controversy after the revelation that the secretary had been hospitalized on January 1 and delegated some of his duties to a deputy without informing officials at the White House and Congress.

Some critics, including GOP lawmakers and former President Donald Trump, called for Austin’s ouster as more details emerged, including that Austin kept his cancer diagnosis under wraps until the story broke.

Multiple inquiries ensued, and the White House released new guidelines for Cabinet secretaries to enhance transparency rules when authority is delegated to a subordinate.

The DoD said Austin had resumed his duties from home after being released from the hospital on January 15, and the secretary returned to work at the Pentagon on January 29.

During a press conference last week, Austin expressed remorse for how his cancer diagnosis and hospitalization were handled.


“We did not handle this right, and I did not handle this right,” Austin said. “I should’ve told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public. And I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”

Austin also acknowledged that Congress “had some very relevant questions that they’ve asked us, and we will continue to answer those questions” as well as tackle any “issues” raised by Rogers.

A Pentagon spokesperson previously told the press the DoD “provided the committee three letters in a good-faith effort to respond to the committee as expeditiously as possible, recognizing that there is an internal 30-day review underway, and the DoD inspector general is conducting his own review.”

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