MAT­TIS CON­FIR­MA­TION BAT­TLE

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is pre­par­ing for a fight with con­gres­sional Democrats over its choice for sec­re­tary of de­fense. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump an­nounced on Tues­day in North Carolina he will nom­i­nate re­tired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis for the de­fense sec­re­tary post.

Gen. Mat­tis, a dec­o­rated war hero and for­mer com­man­der of the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, is highly re­garded as one of America’s most ex­pe­ri­enced com­man­ders and mil­i­tary thinkers.

Un­like other nom­i­nees for the post, Gen. Mat­tis must pass two con­gres­sional tests: the tra­di­tional Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion of se­nior ap­pointees, and a sec­ond vote to waive leg­isla­tive lim­its on for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cers run­ning the Pen­tagon.

Cur­rent U.S. law states that “a per­son may not be ap­pointed as sec­re­tary of de­fense within seven years after re­lief from ac­tive duty as a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer of a reg­u­lar com­po­nent of an armed force.” The re­stric­tion can be cir­cum­vented through a law waiv­ing the seven-year wait­ing pe­riod, as oc­curred in 1950 when Pres­i­dent Tru­man ap­pointed re­tired Gen. Ge­orge Mar­shall as de­fense sec­re­tary.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans al­ready are try­ing to short-cir­cuit an­tic­i­pated Demo­cratic op­po­si­tion to Gen. Mat­tis’ nom­i­na­tion through waiver leg­is­la­tion at­tached to a $1.07 tril­lion stop­gap fund­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment open in the cur­rent lame-duck ses­sion.

Democrats op­pose the pro­vi­sion of the con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion, but an­a­lysts say it is un­likely they are pre­pared to shut down the U.S. gov­ern­ment over what is oth­er­wise ex­pected to be a rel­a­tively easy con­fir­ma­tion for the re­tired Marine Corps gen­eral.

Gen. Mat­tis had lit­tle to say Tues­day night in Fayet­teville after he was in­tro­duced by Mr. Trump.

“Thank you, pres­i­dent-elect, for the con­fi­dence that you have shown in me,” he said. “Thank you for the op­por­tu­nity. I’m grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to our troops, their fam­i­lies, the civil­ians at the Depart­ment of De­fense, be­cause I know how com­mit­ted they are and de­voted they are to the de­fense of our coun­try, the de­fense of our Con­sti­tu­tion and with our al­lies strength­ened, with our coun­try strength­ened.”

Mr. Trump said he is con­fi­dent the gen­eral will win ap­proval.

“What a great guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s go­ing to be in­cred­i­ble. You’ll get that waiver, right? He’s go­ing to get that. Oh, if he didn’t get that waiver, there would be a lot of an­gry peo­ple.”

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