January 12, 2017 / 6:10 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. Senate panel backs waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis (R) departs after testifying before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee backed a waiver on Thursday that will allow James Mattis to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, despite having retired as a Marine General in 2013.

The panel voted 24-3 to waive a law on civilian control of the U.S. military that would have barred Mattis from assuming the position for seven years after his active duty service. The “no” votes came from three Democrats: Senators Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.

The waiver must still be approved by the full Senate, the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and the full House to allow Mattis to serve if he is confirmed to lead the Pentagon.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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