WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed Gen. Charles Brown Jr. as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, making him the first black officer to lead one of the nation’s military services.
Vice President Mike Pence took the unusual step of presiding over the vote, something he usually does to break ties. But Brown’s confirmation, 98-0, was not close. Pence called the moment “historic.”
The vote came as the Trump administration and the mostly white Senate Republican conference grapple with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Protests have convulsed the nation alongside the coronavirus pandemic, with racial discrimination being the common thread between them. The vote in Washington overlapped with Floyd’s funeral in Houston.
Brown most recently served as the commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces. He is a fighter pilot, with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 in combat.
He posted a video on social media Friday describing a lifetime of dealing with racial bias and the struggle to fit in to a predominantly white society.
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