“He had a date conflict, but he’s going to give us another date,” Rogers said of Austin in a brief interview.
The hearing is sure to be contentious. Some Republicans have argued Austin should lose his job over the episode, in which the Pentagon chief was hospitalized on Jan. 1 for complications from an earlier surgery to treat prostate cancer. But the White House was not informed for three days despite authority being transferred to his deputy, Kathleen Hicks.
In a letter last month, Rogers argued the public airing is necessary because Austin did not “provide candid and complete answers” to a series of written questions the panel posed about the timeline of his hospitalization and transfer of responsibilities. Armed Services also sent questions to Hicks and Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, about the events.
In his first public appearance since returning to work at the Pentagon, Austin last week
apologized for his handling of his cancer diagnosis and subsequent hospital stay.
“We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right,” Austin said during a Feb. 1 press conference.