U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin answers questions during a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on February 1, 2024.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | Afp | Getty Images
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was returned to the hospital Sunday afternoon with symptoms related to a possible bladder problem, the Pentagon said.
Austin is battling prostate cancer and has been recovering from surgery for the past few months.
He currently retains all responsibilities of his post, the Pentagon said. According to Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, on his way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Austin brought with him all “unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to carry out his duties.”
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks stands ready to take over Austin’s duties should the need arise.
The Pentagon clarified that the White House and Congress were informed of the hospitalization on Sunday to avoid a repeat of an incident in December, when Austin and his staff failed to inform senior government officials that Austin was due to complications related to it He was in the intensive care unit with his cancer after surgery.
In January, Austin came under fire after the Pentagon waited days to inform the White House and the public that he was in intensive care at the time for unknown reasons. Doctors at Walter Reed later announced his diagnosis of prostate cancer and released details of his hospital visits.
Still, several lawmakers called on Austin to resign over a lack of transparency, although the White House rejected those calls and doubled down on its support for the defense secretary in his fight against cancer.
Austin’s readmission to the hospital on Sunday comes just over a week after he publicly apologized for hiding his previous hospital visit and promised to be more transparent.
“We didn’t handle it properly. And I didn’t handle it properly. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. “I should have told my team and the American public, too, and I take full responsibility,” Austin said at a press briefing at the Pentagon.