Trump Team Said to Cancel Mattis House Panel Testimony on Waiver

"I will work to make sure our strategy and military calculus are employed to reinforce traditional tools of diplomacy, ensuring our President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength", the nominee, Ret. Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, is set to say in his opening remarks to the panel, according to excerpts. Ten republicans have said they will support Mr Trump's pick and the Democrats are expected to oppose him, but Mr Rubio has hedged.

The Senate's Intelligence Committee will hold another confirmation hearing today for Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas, selected by Trump to head the CIA.

"History is clear", Mattis said.

Rtd Gen Mattis also singled out Beijing for its activities in the South China Sea, where it has been building man-made islands with anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries.

Trump has also spoken out against the Paris agreement, though he said after the election he might consider America's role in the treaty.

Under normal circumstances, retired officers must wait at least seven years before being tapped to lead the DoD. The issue of civilian control has roiled some Democrats, who fear a waiver could erode what is a bedrock principle of US government.

"I think it's a big missed opportunity and I think General Mattis shares this view that it was a good opportunity to get off to a good start with our committee to build a big, strong majority in support of him and this waiver", he said, "and now it's going to come out more partisan, and I think that's too bad".

Thornberry said he had "complete confidence" that Mattis would have answered the House Armed Services Committee's questions in a way that would have bolstered lawmakers' already considerable respect for him.

The long-serving general, nominated by President-elect Donald Trump last December, does not need to appear before the committee in order for Congress to vote on the legal exemption, or waiver. "I believe that your appreciation for the costs of war in blood, treasure, and lives and the impact on veterans afterward will enable you to be a check on rash and potentially ill-considered use of military force by a president-elect who perhaps lacks that same appreciation". But Mattis's nomination has thrust the debate surrounding civilian control of the military back into the public eye.

The Senate foreign relations committee, which is questioning Mr Tillerson, comprises 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Calling Mattis a "great Marine, great general officer and great [combatant commander]", Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a group of reporters at an on-the-record breakfast that he was supportive of those who have raised concerns about maintaining civilian control of the military.

In prepared remarks for the hearing, Mattis expressed unqualified support for traditional USA global alliances.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said he expected Mr Mattis would not have a hard time securing the nomination, partly because he enjoys the support of both Democrats and Mr Trump's Republicans.

  • Rogelio Becker