VIDEO: Ernst Questions Secretary of Defense Nominee Lloyd Austin at Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing

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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, questioned Lloyd Austin, President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, at today’s committee hearing.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

Ernst, a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, discussed her ongoing commitment to ending sexual assault and sexual harassment within the military. The senator asked Austin how he intends to address sexual assault and harassment throughout the military and to speak to the impact of these two issues on military readiness.

Roles and Mission of the National Guard

As a former member of the Iowa National Guard, Ernst highlighted the critical role that the men and women of the National Guard have continued to serve – from responding to the pandemic to safeguarding the U.S. Capitol.

Ernst questioned Austin on what further changes and reforms need to be made to ensure the National Guard is treated equally with their active duty counterparts when it comes to training, equipment, and readiness.

Defense Spending and the Pentagon Audit

The Department of Defense remains the only federal agency that cannot pass an audit – something Ernst has continued to bring attention to as part of her efforts to crack down on wasteful government spending. The senator asked Austin to address how he will ensure the Pentagon finally passes its financial audit as required by law.


Last week, Ernst spoke with Austin on a call to discuss civilian control of the military, the critical importance of Special Operations Forces, and preventing sexual assault and harassment in the military at all levels.