Gillibrand Meets With Mattis But Still Declines to Support Waiver

Kirsten Gillibrand, James Mattis
Kirsten Gillibrand, James Mattis / AP
January 4, 2017

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) still will not support retired Gen. James Mattis for secretary of Defense after the two met in her Capitol Hill office on Wednesday.

Mattis sat with Gillibrand for 45 minutes to discuss national security issues and the retired four-star general's nomination to head the Pentagon when President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House.

Gillibrand praised Mattis for his "thoughtful ideas" and military service but said she will not support his nomination because of a law requiring a seven-year break between military service and heading the Defense Department as a civilian, the Washington Examiner reported. Congress needs to pass a waiver that is required by law to allow Mattis to serve in Trump's cabinet

"I'm very grateful that he's willing to continue his service for the president-elect, but I still believe that civilian control of our military is fundamental to the American democracy," Gillibrand said.

"He believes in civilian control of the military too," she added, referring to Mattis.

During the meeting, Gillibrand raised her concerns about Mattis retiring from the Marine Corps in 2013, within the seven-year timeframe.

While Mattis enjoys bipartisan support and is expected to be confirmed by the Senate, Gillibrand has argued for weeks that he should not head the Pentagon.