Bipartisan lawmakers urge Air Force secretary for top Defense position

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDems push back on White House suggesting they're 'not smart enough' for Trump's tax returns Civil rights attorney confronts Candace Owens on Fox News Lieu fires back at GOP lawmaker who claims he was 'owned' by Candace Owens: 'She said what she said' MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay Ernst Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Abrams: Schumer has been 'relentless but thoughtful' about Senate bid MORE (R-Iowa) are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE to choose Air Force secretary Heather Wilson to replace outgoing Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief Trump moves to install loyalists 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.