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 GillibrandDemocrats turn on Al Franken Report: Franken will resign Thursday Minnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign MORE (N.Y.) in opposing the waiver. So far, Republican lawmakers have heaped praise on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia 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.