Updated Jan 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Austin's hospitalization due to complications from prostate cancer treatment

Lloyd Austin speaks

Lloyd Austin during a meeting at the Pentagon in November 2023. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's recent hospitalization was due to complications from a procedure to treat prostate cancer, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The revelation comes after the secrecy surrounding the Secretary of Defense's recent hospitalization prompted days of controversy and calls for his ouster from some Republicans.

The big picture: The cancer was detected in December during Austin’s routine health screening, according to a statement from Walter Reed.

  • “His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” the statement noted.
  • Austin underwent a "minimally invasive surgical procedure" to treat the cancer on Dec. 22, from which he recovered well and was able to return home.
  • However, he was readmitted to the hospital on Jan. 1 due to complications from the procedure, which doctors determined to be a urinary tract infection.
  • Although Austin remains in the hospital, the statement noted that “he has progressed steadily throughout his stay” and the infection has cleared.

State of play: The Pentagon announced Friday evening that Austin had been admitted to Walter Reed on Jan. 1 due to complications related to a recent medical procedure.

  • National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed Monday that the White House and National Security Council had remained in the dark about Austin’s hospitalization until Thursday afternoon.
  • Some Republicans called for Austin to testify, or even be dismissed, over the breakdown in communications illustrated by the incident. Members of both parties demanded answers regarding the circumstances of the hospitalization and Austin's health.
  • A group of House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden Tuesday afternoon calling for Austin's resignation, as well as the resignation of any staff "involved in covering up his hospitalization," Politico reported.
  • If Austin refuses to resign, he ought to be dismissed, they added. The letter was made public around the same time that Walter Reed's statement was released.

Worth noting: The Pentagon announced Monday that Austin had resumed the full duties of his office.

  • In a statement over the weekend, Austin acknowledged that he could have done a "better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed."
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