US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has transferred his duties to his deputy after being hospitalized due to health issues, the Pentagon said.
"Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress have been notified," Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.
The rapid notification of Austins visit to the hospital came after the defense secretary acknowledged failures in notifying the administration and the public about his previous hospitalization.
His unannounced hospitalization, which was not disclosed to the media or President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials for days, raised major questions about transparency within the administration. Republicans have been highly critical of how the Pentagon handled Austins illness, and the defense secretary is scheduled to testify to the House Armed Services Committee at the end of the month about his failure to notify key government leaders.