By Debbie Gregory.
Sometimes it takes an act of Congress. And that is exactly how the House and Senate paved the wave to permit retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to head the Pentagon for Donald Trump.
The measure overrides a prohibition against former U.S. service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top job at the Defense Department. Mattis retired from military service in 2013.
The vote was 268-151. Only 36 Democrats supported the bill after Trump’s transition team blocked Mattis from testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, despite the retired four-star general sailing through his Senate confirmation hearing earlier in the day.
The House vote came one day after the Senate easily passed the waiver, 81-17.
Mattis in line to be part of the first batch of President-elect Donald Trump’s picks to be confirmed by the Senate as early as Inauguration Day.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Obama would sign the bill, if it’s sent to him before he leaves office next Friday.
Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) acknowledged “legitimate complaints” with the process and wording of the waiver, including the omission of Mattis by name. But Thornberry argued lawmakers should push ahead with the waiver to ensure there’s no gap in Pentagon leadership when Trump takes office.
Mattis is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (with Valor) and the Meritorious Service Medal.