WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Committee has approved legislation to permit retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as defense secretary.
The GOP-led panel voted 34-28 to pass a measure that grants Mattis a one-time exception from the law that bars former U.S. service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the job.
Mattis retired from military service in 2013. Before Mattis can join the Cabinet, Congress must approve a one-time exception to a law requiring a military officer to be out of uniform for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon. Even some of Trump’s strongest critics say Mattis merits the exception.
A vote on the bill in the full House is scheduled for Friday. The Senate easily passed similar legislation on Thursday, 81-17.
Before the committee voted, Republicans and Democrats criticized the Trump transition team for refusing to allow Mattis to appear before the panel. Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the committee’s Republican chairman, says “short-sightedness prevailed.”
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