Rep. Chris Deluzio of Pennsylvania on Wednesday became the first Democrat in Congress to call on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to resign over the lack of transparency surrounding his previously undisclosed cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization.
Deluzio, a member of the Armed Services Committee and an Iraq war veteran, wrote on X that he no longer had faith in Austin at the helm of the Defense Department.
“I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command,” Deluzio wrote.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., previously criticized Austin, saying, “He has all but confessed that he didn’t follow the procedure and accepted responsibility,” but he did not call on him to resign, saying, “We need to know more.”
A growing number of Republicans have criticized Austin over his delays in notifying the White House and key Pentagon officials about his hospitalization on Jan. 1 due to complications from a minimally invasive procedure he underwent last month to remove his prostate.
Some Republicans, including Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the Republican conference chair, have also called for Austin’s resignation.
Stefanik accused him at a news conference Wednesday of a “dangerous dereliction of duty” and called for “the immediate resignation of Secretary Austin and anyone who lied for him.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., announced a formal inquiry Tuesday into the lack of transparency surrounding Austin’s hospitalization.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., went further Wednesday by announcing articles of impeachment against Austin.
Rosendale, who is considering a Senate bid this year, said Monday that Austin has “violated his oath of office time and time again and has jeopardized the lives of the American people.”
Before Austin’s diagnosis was announced Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota called for Austin to testify on Capitol Hill.
The White House is standing by Austin. At a briefing Wednesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden “has complete confidence in the secretary.”
The Pentagon said this week that it would review its notification procedures. It also said Monday that there were no plans for Austin to step down.