Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden’s comfort level — have come into play.
Between the lines: Biden’s top advisers feel pressure to announce an African-American to a prominent Cabinet role. Earlier this week, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a top ally, said he was disappointed more African-Americans had not been included in Biden’s early selections.
Austin would be the first Black secretary of Defense in American history.
The former head of U.S. Central Command, Austin retired from the Army in 2016. He would need a congressional waiver to serve, just as President Trump’s first Defense secretary, James Mattis, required as a recent military retiree.