The Senate confirmed retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis to serve as President Donald Trump’s defense secretary Friday. His nomination was allowed to move forward after Congress passed a special waiver, signed into law by Trump Friday, to exempt Mattis from a ban on military officials taking the position within seven years of their service. The vote was 98 to 1.
Given that the waiver was passed last week overwhelmingly — 81 to 17 in the Senate — it’s no surprise the Mattis also sailed through his official confirmation vote.
Other nominees have been stalled due to frustration expressed by Democrats about missing paperwork in their confirmation questionnaires and ethics reviews. Mattis was also able to appease concerns about Trump’s and other nominees’ ties to Russia by taking hard stances against the country during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mattis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO, also defended the alliance in the hearings, in another break from Trump, who has criticized it.
Mattis spent more than four decades in the Marines and retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013. He is known for his stark rhetoric against “political Islam,” and also has been critical of Iran deal.