U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized in Washington on Sunday for treatment of “symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue”, a Pentagon spokesperson said.
Austin, 70, later transferred the duties of his office to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder said in a statement.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers criticized Austin last month for failing to disclose a cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospitalizations in December and January, including to President Joe Biden. Some prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, called for Austin to be removed from his job.
The incident was an embarrassment for Biden, and Austin apologized during a televised news briefing. He is scheduled to testify before Congress on Feb. 29 about the situation.
Biden, a Democrat, has said he has confidence in Austin despite what the president agreed was a lapse in judgment.
With its announcement of the secretary’s trip to the hospital and the quick decision to transfer his duties to a deputy, the Pentagon appeared determined to avoid a repeat of last month’s political uproar.