House lawmakers to grill Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on secret hospitalization

 Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has agreed to appear before lawmakers later this month and face questions over his secret hospitalization.

According to the committee, Austin will appear at a hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee on February 29.

"The Department of Defense has confirmed to the House Armed Services Committee that Secretary Austin will testify before the committee on February 29 over his failure to disclose his hospitalization," House Armed Services Committee spokesman Justin Tripathi said.

The committee called Austin to testify after the defense secretary was hospitalized for prostate cancer treatment last month without public notice and without notifying the White House.

Defense Section. Austin apologizes directly to Biden over hospitalization controversy: 'Didn't handle this right'

Austin, 70, told reporters that he apologized directly to President Biden for not giving him prior notice of his condition or his hospital stay, and admitted, "I didn't handle it properly."

"I should have told the President about my cancer diagnosis," he said at a press conference last Thursday. "I should have told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility for that. I stand by my teammates and the American people." I apologize." ,

Austin insisted that there was "no lapse in authority and no risk to the department's command and control" during his hospitalization, which came at a time of crisis in the Middle East. The day he returned to work in person at the Pentagon on Jan. 29, the day after a drone strike by Iran-backed militants on a checkpoint near the Syrian border in Jordan, killed three U.S. service members and at least 40 others were injured.

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that a drone strike was conducted against an Iraqi militia leader while Austin was in the intensive care unit.

PlaceholderSome lawmakers have called for Austin to resign because of the unannounced absence, but he has said he will not do so.

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called on Austin in a Jan. 18 letter to testify before the committee and answer questions, including whether the Defense Secretary instructed his staff to Instructed not to inform the President about his hospitalization.

Austin's office said the Defense Department provided three letters to the House Armed Services Committee in a "good-faith effort" to respond to the panel, while "recognizing that a 30-day internal review is underway, and the DOD Inspector General is conducting its Are" your review."

Austin returned to work in a virtual capacity on January 5 while still hospitalized, even as he authorized airstrikes on Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis. Despite the admission at Walter Reed on January 1, the Pentagon did not inform the public, press, or Congress until January 5.

Officials also acknowledged that the White House was not informed of Austin's hospitalization until January 4.

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