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Congressional lawmakers have advanced a bill to the Senate that would require a 24-hour notification for any medical incapacitation of members of the National Security Council, including the Defense Secretary. The legislation comes in response to the lack of transparency following Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization in January.

House lawmakers unanimously approved the bill, termed the “Securing the Chain of Command Continuity Act,” which aims to prevent confusion and ensure a robust military chain of command during emergencies. “As the world grows more dangerous, and threats to our service members stationed abroad increase, we must have a strong chain of command among our military’s leadership that cannot be compromised,” stated Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., a former Navy helicopter pilot and co-sponsor of the bill.

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Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., an Air Force veteran and another co-sponsor of the bill, highlighted the importance of swift communication, saying, “Responding to a world crisis in the shortest amount of time is essential for safeguarding the American people.” Under the new legislation, any failure to notify key governmental figures and offices would require a comprehensive report explaining the lapse within 30 days.

Some background:
During the period of Austin’s undisclosed hospitalization, which followed complications from prostate cancer surgery, US forces in the Middle East faced attacks by Iran-backed militias and Navy ships were deployed on a mission in the Red Sea. The delayed disclosure of Austin’s condition raised concerns over potential vulnerabilities in US military leadership.


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