Democratic lawmakers in the Senate are scrambling to curb GOP efforts to expedite confirmation of Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary.
Republicans are considering adding legislation to a spending bill to ease the nomination of retired Gen. James Mattis who needs a waiver in order to be confirmed, according to Politico. The year-end funding bill must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown and Democratic leaders are urging the GOP to refrain from adding any wording to the bill that could set up Mattis’s position before Trump is sworn in.
“We believe that should not be short-shrifted through,” incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said about the spending bill.
Mattis, who retired in 2013, does not meet the qualifications for a defense secretary to be out of uniform for at least seven years before assuming the post. Republicans are not likely to add the waiver itself into the spending bill, but could amend the wording of the requirement.
“I find it very troubling that the members of this Congress would put language into what next year’s Congress should be held accountable for,” Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray said. “It would be bad precedent … Mattis will most likely go through” anyway.
While Democrats have not committed to blocking the spending bill over the confirmation of Mattis, Republicans worry about attempts to drag out the process after January and also thwart other GOP plans like repealing Obamacare. Republicans could use the threat of a government shutdown to push Democrats on the issue.
“It’s a mistake,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said. “I don’t think you should amend the rules of the House and Senate and I can’t remember it ever being done before.”
Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid promised to address the issue Tuesday while New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand plans to require a vote when 60 votes are reached to give Mattis the waiver, Politico reported.
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