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
© Getty Images

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 GillibrandEx-officials voice deep concerns over new Pentagon UFO unit Paid leave advocates ramping up the pressure on Manchin and Schumer Gillibrand, bipartisan lawmakers push to keep military justice overhaul in NDAA MORE (N.Y.) in opposing the waiver. So far, Republican lawmakers have heaped praise on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't 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.