Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman John McCain said he’s concerned Democrats will elongate the process of confirming retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense Tuesday.
Republicans were considering adding language to a must-pass, stop-gap spending measure that would provide a legislative waiver. Mattis is currently ineligible due to a provision in the The National Security Act of 1947 stating that the secretary has to be removed from active duty for seven years before they can hold the position.
“I’m very worried about it, we have to work on it,” McCain told reporters. “You can never take anything for granted, the easiest thing to do would be to get a time commitment from the Democrats.”
The GOP will need to swing eight Democrats to meet the threshold needed for conformation, and while a few Democratic lawmakers said they support him, a number of them said they are looking to clock a waiver.
“While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service, I will oppose a waiver,” New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement last week. “Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”
According to McCain, Senate Republicans worked with the Obama administration while it was trying to fill its cabinet positions.
“This is the most important post of all the cabinet positions, so we should expedite this process just like I expedited every other process when Obama proposed nominees for the secretary of Defense — I was active in helping move that process forward as quickly as possible,” he said. “The Democrats should do the same for us and when they don’t and we have to resort to parliamentary action to force them to than it’s disgraceful.”
McCain said Democrats holding up the process due to Republicans’ decision to delay confirming President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is uncalled for, adding he believes there is “no connection between the two and it’s disgraceful.”
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