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Stefanik praises Trump's pick for Defense

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump introduces retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his appointed secretary of defense while speaking to supporters during a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Rep. Elise Stefanik has praised Trump’s pick, saying he is ‘uniquely qualified to lead in this time.’

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik was effusive in her praise of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense.

She called the general one of the finest officers of this generation.

“When you look at the threats we face, Mattis is uniquely qualified to lead in this time,” she said during an interview with the Watertown Daily Times.

Placing him in the defense secretary role would require Congress to pass a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947, which requires military officers to wait seven years before assuming such a role. Mattis retired in 2013 as the head of U.S. Central Command, where he oversaw operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said granting a waiver was not a decision she would take lightly, and said she wanted more discussion in Congress about the issue.

“It’s important to have hearings to discuss the option of a waiver, and ensure we have oversight into that process,” she said.

Congress has not approved a waiver like this since 1950, when President Harry Truman picked Gen. George Marshall, who had only been out of active service for five years, to be his defense secretary.

Fellow New York lawmaker U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand voiced her opposition to granting a waiver for the general during an appearance in Watertown last week, stating the timing rules should be followed without exception.

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that he wanted to move forward with the confirmation as soon as possible.

Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told Defense News on Saturday that the waiver would get a full discussion.

“We’re not going to try to ram it through, we’re going to fully talk to the experts, the legal scholars and others, and do it in due course,” he told the publication.

The New York Times and Washington Post contributed to this report.


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