Scott Statement on No Vote on Mattis Waiver

January 13, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement on his No vote on S. 84, a bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces.  Specifically, the legislation would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense if confirmed by the United States Senate.

“General Mattis has a distinguished military record and is certainly qualified to serve as Secretary of Defense.  However, I voted against the waiver to allow General Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense if confirmed by the Senate for several reasons. 

“Civilian control of our military has been a fundamental principal of our constitutional republic.  Unfortunately, President-elect Trump’s transition staff cancelled General Mattis’ testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.  This denied the committee of jurisdiction the opportunity to hear directly from him on the many issues that arise with the unique and rare situation of a recently retired active duty military officer leading the Department of Defense.

“Additionally, the waiver considered before the House today was overly broad and not specific to General Mattis.  If General Mattis failed to be confirmed by the Senate and President-elect Trump nominated another recently retired active duty military officer who would have otherwise required a waiver, this broad waiver would cover that subsequent nominee with no review by the House or Senate as to whether a waiver should be granted.  Congress should not abdicate its constitutional authority in such a manner, especially in circumstances that may jeopardize civilian control of our military.”

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