Bipartisan lawmakers urge Air Force secretary for top Defense position

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuTestimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Democrats eye Pompeo testimony MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Farmers: New Trump ethanol proposal reneged on previous deal Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate MORE (R-Iowa) are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE to choose Air Force secretary Heather Wilson to replace outgoing Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Trump turns Pelosi's 'meltdown' criticism around: 'She is a very sick person' War of words at the White House MORE

"I've seen firsthand Air Force Sec Heather Wilson's leadership for our men and women in uniform - she would make a great Secretary of Defense and make our country proud," Ernst tweeted on Sunday.

"I agree with that Heather Wilson would be a great Secretary of Defense," Lieu said, retweeting Ernst's post. "Wilson embodies the core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do."  

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Trump announced on Sunday that Mattis, who resigned in disagreement with the president last week, would leave his job on Jan. 1, two months before his planned departure. 

Mattis’s deputy, Patrick Shanahan, will serve as acting Pentagon chief.

Several names have emerged as possible front-runners to succeed Mattis.

Trump once reportedly considered firing Wilson over her handling of his proposed "Space Force," Foreign Policy reported earlier this year.

Wilson reportedly angered Trump and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan with a perceived campaign to undermine Trump’s order to launch the "Space Force," a new military branch.

"There is no discussion by the President to oust Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson - all reporting to the contrary is simply false," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in an email at the time.

Wilson opposed the idea of a separate branch of the military for space last year, but she has said she is in "complete alignment” with Trump's new push. 

-Updated 11:19 p.m.