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Deluzio becomes first Congressional Democrat to call for Defense Secretary Austin to resign

A man in a suit speaks in front of press.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies before a Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 31, 2023.

Western Pennsylvania Congressman Chris Deluzio is calling for the resignation of President Joe Biden's top military advisor, after U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin failed to disclose a recent hospitalization.

In a Wednesday-afternoon statement, Deluzio said he had "lost trust" in Austin's leadership "due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command.

"I have a solemn duty in Congress to conduct oversight of the Defense Department through my service on the House Armed Services Committee," added Deluzio, a Navy veteran who served in Iraq.

Austin is being treated for prostate cancer.

Deluzio appears to be the first Democrat to publicly make such a call, though there has been criticism from Democrats amid reports that Austin was hospitalized for several days without notifying the White House or others about his condition. Some Republicans are calling for Austin's impeachment or removal.

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Deluzio is in his first term representing a swing district that includes Beaver County and a broad swath of Allegheny County: He faces a likely Republican foe in state House member Rob Mercuri in his bid for re-election this year. Deluzio has generally aligned himself with the White House and party leadership, particularly on labor and economic issues. But on Wednesday he said "duty today requires me to call on Secretary Austin to resign."

He added: “I thank Secretary Austin for his leadership ... and wish him a speedy recovery.”

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.