Barely Challenged In Confirmation
Unlike many of President Trump’s Cabinet picks, General Mattis faced little opposition in his confirmation.
Much of this can be attributed to the near mythical stature Mattis has attained over his 33-year career. Regardless, many Democrats in Washington were a little too-giddy with the selection of Mattis to head the Pentagon.
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The Senate cleared a similar measure easily, 81-17, after 30 Democrats including Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico backed the bill. The legislation is separate from a Senate confirmation vote on Mattis, but it signals there will be no real hurdle to approving Trump’s choice shortly after the president-elect is sworn in next week.
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee’s top Democrat, also backed the waiver legislation because Mattis would act as a “counterbalance” to Trump.
So, the man affectionately known as ‘Mad Dog’ might be the anti-Trump? That seems to be what many are believing…and hoping.
Mattis stands out as a remarkably qualified leader, and I know he is someone who will actually stand up to President Trump. Before Trump realizes this himself, Democrats would be wise to have this debate and then grant an exemption to confirm him as our next secretary of Defense.
The Denver Post also agrees with this assessment:
The role of quiet diplomat is an unlikely one for a longtime combat commander whose brash commentary has occasionally generated controversy.
But Mattis, who has already shown himself willing to disagree with the president’s preferences, now occupies a key position in the Cabinet of a man with little foreign policy experience.
The real fireworks between the White House and the Pentagon have been over staffing and budgets at the Defense Department.
The Mattis pick was seen by Republicans around Washington as an indication that Trump would rely on senior and experienced officials to shape and implement his national security and foreign policies. Many “Never Trump” Republicans also thought this might be their way into service despite having opposed Trump in the GOP primary.
Service secretaries represent potential alternate power centers inside the Defense Department, and Mattis as defense secretary has an interest in having secretaries who are loyal to him and don’t have independent relationships with the White House.
Mattis is also pushing for the Trump transition team to allow “Never Trump” Republicans to serve in the Pentagon, but so far the Trump team is refusing.
Republican lawmakers and senior congressional aides said in recent interviews they’re running out of patience with Mattis’ staffing decisions, which have disappointed Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee hoping to see their ideological allies elevated to senior levels in the Defense Department. Others are grumbling about Mattis’ refusal to advocate a bigger increase in the defense budget, which defense hawks believe was gutted disastrously under President Barack Obama.