Republicans tie Trump's Defense pick to funding fight
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A continuing resolution (CR) released Tuesday evening outlines a fast-track procedure for lowering the amount of time one has to be out of the military before he or she can serve as Defense secretary.
 
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Under current law, Gen. James Mattis, who retired in 2013, would need to be out of uniform for seven years before leading the department. The funding bill sets up lawmakers to reduce that to three years.
 
The fix, according to the CR, would also only apply to Mattis and not subsequent nominees to lead the Pentagon. The bill also lays out an expedited floor procedure for formally passing the change early next year.
 
The move sets up a fight with Democrats, who warned earlier Tuesday not to link Trump's pick to the funding bill.
 
Rep. Nita Lowey  (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said she was "concerned" about the provision. 
 
"Civilian leadership of the military is a bedrock principle of our democracy that must not be eroded in any way," she said. 
 
 
"I wouldn't say it's universal, but I will tell you a strong majority of the Democrats think it's a big mistake," Durbin told reporters.

Democrat Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineAmerica’s ball cap industry is in trouble Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (Va.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP lawmaker demands ‘immediate recall’ of acting US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (Conn.), as well as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), signaled Tuesday they opposed including the Mattis language in the CR. 

Lawmakers could have delayed the fight over the change until Trump formally nominates Mattis when he takes office next month.

But Democrats could have used the Senate's rules to eat up floor time and potentially kill Mattis's nomination through procedural hurdles. 

A process to ensure committee review AND Senate consideration. And the votes of 3/5 of the #Senate (60) will be required for passage. https://t.co/VjQFHivF21

— STEW  (@StewSays) December 7, 2016

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Booker bill would create federally funded savings account for every child Affordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign MORE (N.Y.) became the first Senate Democrat to pledge to oppose giving Mattis a waiver if it came up for a stand-alone vote next year. 

Top Senate Republicans, including Sen. John CornynJohn CornynManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia O'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown MORE (Texas), indicated on Tuesday that they supported including the provision in the CR. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump: 'You know what I am? I'm a nationalist' Graham on Saudi Arabia: 'I feel completely betrayed' Meghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family MORE (R-Ariz.), the Armed Services Committee chairman, also slammed Democrats for threatening to slow walk Mattis.

"If we could get an agreement from them to take up the waiver for Mattis immediately then it wouldn't be necessary, but they haven't given us that assurance, which is disgraceful," he told reporters.

Under the guidelines outlined in the CR, the Armed Services Committee would have five days to take up legislation lowering the retirement requirement, and debate on the Senate floor would be limited to no more than 10 hours. 

Mattis and Trump touched on the upcoming fight during an event in North Carolina on Tuesday night. 

“Oh, if he didn’t get a waiver there’d be a lot of angry people,” the president-elect said at a rally with supporters.