Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona lauded President-elect Donald Trump for nominating retired Gen. James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense.
"As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I look forward to moving forward with the confirmation process as soon as possible in the new Congress," McCain explained in a Dec. 1 statement posted to his official Senate website, in which he said he was "pleased" by the selection.
The senator, a war hero who has butted heads with Trump in the past, said he has maintained a close relationship with Mattis for years.
"He is without a doubt one of the finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader who inspires a rare and special admiration of his troops," added McCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee. "General Mattis has a clear understanding of the many challenges facing the Department of Defense, the U.S. military, and our national security. America will be fortunate to have General Mattis in its service once again."
Due to a longstanding national security law that says generals must wait seven years before serving as defense secretary, Mattis will need to obtain a waiver from Congress before assuming the position, since he stepped down as general in 2013, notes The Washington Post. It is unclear whether the legislature will support easing the ban in Mattis's case.
"While I deeply respect General Mattis's service, I will oppose a waiver," said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who sits on the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee. "Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule."
Others indicated they would support Mattis, who is known for his brutally honest speaking style.
"Few individuals in the field of national security are as respected and admired as Jim Mattis," said Republican Rep. Marc Thornberry of Texas. "His nomination as Secretary of Defense is an excellent selection, and I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this capacity. I will work with my colleagues in the coming days to clear the way for his confirmation by the Senate."
Congress is expected to vote on the confirmation before Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.