Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin faced a tense hearing Thursday before members of Congress as they pressed him about his dayslong delay in notifying President Joe Biden and lawmakers of his hospitalization after his cancer diagnosis.

Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., expressed concerns that Biden administration officials had not noticed Austin’s absence during his hospitalization and suggested that his advice is “not sought or heeded” in the White House amid ongoing military operations in the Middle East.

Austin repeated his assertion that “there was never any lapse in authorities or in command and control” and that he or his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, were in a position to carry out duties of his office. He again acknowledged “a breakdown of notifications” during his hospitalization last month and that he “did not handle it right.”

In his prepared remarks, Austin acknowledged that Congress has “some legitimate concerns about some issues” around his recent illness.

“Again, we did not handle this right. And I did not handle this right,” he said. “And as you know, I have apologized, including directly to the President. And I take full responsibility.”

Austin said he had “never intended” to keep his hospitalization from the White House or anyone else, and the Department of Defense “immediately instituted changes” to make sure “authorities can be temporarily transferred” to his deputy and notifications are made.

“Now, even before the 30-day review, we had already made some key changes. In the future, if the deputy secretary ever needs to temporarily assume the duties of my office, she and several White House offices will be immediately notified. That includes the White House Situation Room and the White House chief of staff,” he said. “Key officials across the department will also be notified, including the deputy secretary, the chairman of the joint chiefs, and the general counsel.”

Austin expressed confidence that the Pentagon “will not experience the same issues in the future” after implementing some new procedures to prevent lapses in notification.

Austin also said his doctors expect him to be “completely cured of my prostate cancer, which was caught early,” and that he continues to “recover well.”

Austin came under heavy scrutiny prior to his appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, with several Republican lawmakers calling on him to resign over the hospitalization incident.

Rogers launched an inquiry last month into Austin’s failure to disclose his hospitalization and requested his testimony on the matter. In letters to Hicks and Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, Rogers asked for details such as any medical sedation or general anesthesia Austin received, any instructions not to inform people about his hospitalization, and any official acts he performed during his hospitalization.

The Defense Department’s inspector general is conducting an internal review into the matter.

Austin has apologized for failing to properly handle and communicate his cancer diagnosis and hospitalization.

“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis,” Austin said at a news conference at the Pentagon this month. “I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people,” he said.

Austin was later admitted to a critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a bladder issue and transferred his duties to Hicks. The White House, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Congress were promptly notified of that hospitalization. Austin was released from the hospital days later.

Dr. John Maddox, Walter Reed’s trauma medical director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, the director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research at the hospital’s cancer center, said in a joint statement that Austin’s treatment for the bladder issue, which was corrected nonsurgically, was not linked to the earlier cancer diagnosis “and will have no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday received a closed briefing from the Defense Department on the results of its 30-day review looking into the process for transferring the functions and duties of the defense secretary.

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