By Jon Reid
January 18, 2017 at 4:44 pm ET
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday recommended the nomination of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to the Senate, paving the way for the defense secretary nominee’s expected confirmation.
The recommendation, approved in a 26-1 vote, allows the Senate to consider President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Pentagon as early as Inauguration Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has prioritized confirming Trump’s national security team on Jan. 20. Votes in the Senate are possible Friday after the chamber convenes at 4 p.m.
Unlike many of Trump’s nominees, Mattis has bipartisan support. Last week, the Senate and House voted to exclude Mattis from a requirement that he be at least seven years removed from active duty.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was the only committee member to vote against Mattis on Wednesday, according to her spokeswoman, Whitney Brennan. The New York Democrat is an advocate for allowing women to serve in combat roles, and Mattis has voiced skepticism on the issue in the past. At his confirmation hearing last week, Mattis told Gillibrand that he had no plans to reverse gains for women and gay service members.
This is not the first time the committee has fast-tracked a defense secretary nominee. In 2001, the panel fast-tracked Donald Rumsfeld’s nomination to the Senate the day before President George W. Bush’s inauguration.