Senate panel approves Mattis for Defense secretary

Senate panel approves Mattis for Defense secretary
© Greg Nash

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved the selection of retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary, setting him up to be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE is inaugurated and officially nominates him.

The committee voted 26-1 to recommend Mattis to the full chamber, meaning the nomination will be sent straight to the Senate without referral to the committee, according a committee statement. The lone “no” vote came from Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSome of us Midwesterners think maybe Amy Klobuchar would do OK as president Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Dems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man MORE (D-N.Y.).

Gillibrand had previously vowed to oppose Mattis over concerns that he hasn’t been retired from the military for as long as the law requires Defense secretaries to be.

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Mattis retired in 2013. The law requires Defense secretaries be out of uniform for at least seven years. But Congress passed a waiver last week that allows Mattis to bypass that law.

When the committee voted on the waiver last week, Gillibrand was joined in her opposition to the waiver by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Sherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems MORE (Mass.).

According to the committee release, there's precedent for the committee voting on a nominee before the inauguration — the nomination of Donald Rumsfeld to be President George W. Bush's secretary of Defense was sent to the Senate on Jan. 19, 2001.