The Secretary transferred his duties to his deputy.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was taken back to the hospital on Sunday afternoon, this time “for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.
“At approximately 4:55 pm today, Secretary Austin transferred the functions and duties of the office of the Secretary of Defense to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement, updating the public early Thursday evening. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense has assumed the functions and duties. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress have been notified.
He said earlier that the White House, Congress and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had all been notified.
The defense secretary previously underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure for prostate cancer on Dec. 22, which led to a urinary tract infection and serious intestinal complications. He was hospitalized again on Jan. 1, but the White House didn’t learn of it for three days — secrecy that sparked intense scrutiny and criticism.
“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis, and should also have told my team and the American public,” Austin told reporters earlier this month. “I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.”
Austin also spoke in personal terms about his health challenges.
“The news shook me, as I know that it shakes so many others, especially in the Black community. It was a gut punch,” he said then. “And frankly, my first instinct was to keep it private. I don’t think it’s news that I’m a pretty private guy. I never like burdening others with my problems. It’s just not my way.”
President Joe Biden has publicly faulted Austin for not informing him earlier of his hospitalization after his cancer procedure, telling reporters in January that he still had confidence in Austin but noted it was a lapse in judgment.
Austin has said he directly apologized to Biden and told him he was “deeply sorry” for not letting him know of his diagnosis immediately.
An internal review as well as an investigation by the Defense Department inspector general are ongoing.
ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.