Dem lawmaker won't support waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary

Dem lawmaker won't support waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary
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Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a former Marine, said Monday he would oppose a waiver to allow retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as defense secretary. 

"As a veteran, I believe strongly in the principle of civilian leadership of the military. Current law requires that a military officer be out of active duty for at least seven years before taking the job of defense secretary," Gallego said in a statement announcing his decision. 

Gallego is an Iraq War veteran and currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

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"I do not believe this long-standing check should be cast aside, and I will oppose a waiver of this rule, even for someone as exceptionally qualified as General Mattis," he said. 

Current law requires a defense secretary to be at least seven years out of serving in the military. Mattis retired in 2013, meaning he could only become defense secretary if Congress passes a law to allow for an exception. 

Gallego joins Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (N.Y.) in opposing the waiver. So far, Republican lawmakers have heaped praise on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE's decision to noominate the general, who is beloved by many troops who served under him. 

"As a fellow Marine, I greatly admire General James Mattis' dedication and leadership. We all should be incredibly grateful for his many years of service to our nation," Gallego said.