This bill would create an exception to the rule that prevents people who have been active duty military officers in the last seven years from serving as Secretary of Defense. It would only allow retired Marine Corps General James Mattis to serve in the role — who left the service in 2013 — as he has been nominated to do so by President-elect Trump. Any other person nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense would require a separate waiver.
- EnactedJanuary 20th, 2017The President signed this bill into law
- The house Passed January 13th, 2017Roll Call Vote 268 Yea / 151 Nay
- The senate Passed January 12th, 2017Roll Call Vote 81 Yea / 17 Nay
Committee on Armed ServicesIntroducedJanuary 10th, 2017
- senate Committees
What is Senate Bill S. 84?
Cost of Senate Bill S. 84
In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke highly of General Mattis, calling him “a leader who inspires a rare and special admiration of his troops. He is a forthright strategic thinker. His integrity is unshakable and unquestionable.”
Only one waiver has been granted for a Secretary of Defense who recently retired from the military — it went to General George Marshall, who was Army Chief of Staff during World War II. When the post was first created in 1947, a Secretary of Defense nominee had to be retired from the military for 10 years, but Marshall was granted a waiver despite having retired four years prior. The underlying law was left intact despite the waiver, but in 2008 the requirement was shortened to seven years.
Some Democrats have expressed opposition to a waiver for Mattis, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) saying that “civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy.” Despite that, the Senate approved the waiver on a bipartisan 81-17 vote.