WASHINGTON (Agencies): U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has delegated his responsibilities to his deputy as he receives treatment for a critical health issue.

This development comes after Austin’s recent hospitalization for a bladder problem. On Sunday, he was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for an “emergent bladder issue.”

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks will assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense during this period. The White House and Congress have also been informed.

Earlier, in December, Austin underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer. In January, he was hospitalized for two weeks due to complications related to his health.

The Defense Department faced criticism for not promptly informing President Joe Biden about Austin’s hospital stay.

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