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: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Senators 'deeply troubled' military lawyers being used for immigration cases Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump MORE (N.Y.) in opposing the waiver. So far, Republican lawmakers have heaped praise on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP lawmakers preparing to vote on bill allowing migrant children to be detained longer than 20 days: report Wasserman Schultz: Infants separated from their parents are in Florida immigrant shelters Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws 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.