CONFIRMATION OF JAMES MATTIS; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 11
(Senate - January 20, 2017)

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[Pages S356-S357]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                      CONFIRMATION OF JAMES MATTIS

  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, Gen. Jim Mattis is an extraordinary 
individual and an American patriot who has dedicated his life to 
service of country.
  Nevertheless, his nomination did concern me, given that it was 
contrary to underlying law that has been in place since World War II. 
This law restricts individuals who have come out of the military less 
than 7 years ago from serving as Secretary of Defense. The reason for 
this longstanding law is to ensure civilian control over the military. 
Civilian control is an important American tradition which General

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Mattis himself called a ``fundamental tenet of the American military 
tradition.''
  Due to this fundamental concern, I opposed the legislation to create 
an exception to the law to allow General Mattis to serve. I intend to 
oppose any future such exceptions for any future President as long as I 
serve in the Senate. However, now that the exception exists for General 
Mattis, and he is eligible to serve and has been nominated, I supported 
his confirmation today.
  During his confirmation hearing, he clearly stressed that he 
understood his new role and would work to ensure the longstanding 
American tradition of civilian control. He will serve at the pleasure 
of the new President, but his job now is not to simply give and follow 
orders, but provide candid advice, ask tough questions, provide 
civilian leadership, and exert broad management over all aspects of 
DOD, not only warfighting. During his career in the U.S. Marines he has 
distinguished himself both in combat and at home, earning the respect 
of his fellow marines as well as servicemembers in every branch of the 
military. He has also held his marines and anyone serving with him to 
the highest of standards, emphasizing commitment to duty and the 
importance of learning and perfecting their profession.
  While I voted against a waiver for him to serve as Secretary of 
Defense, I in no way can oppose him on the merits now that the waiver 
has been approved. My vote on the waiver was no way a reflection of my 
support for his qualifications, but a vote which I felt was important 
to maintain the tradition of civilian control of the military, an 
important American tradition which General Mattis himself called a 
``fundamental tenet of the American military tradition.''
  As Secretary of Defense, he will be charged with the important task 
of providing civilian leadership at the Department of Defense, the 
largest agency in our country, and the one tasked with our national 
defense.
  New Mexico plays an outsized role in these efforts, beginning with 
our national labs, that maintain our nuclear weapons and play an 
important role in multiple defense efforts.
  In addition, New Mexico is home to three Air Force bases. Kirtland 
Air Force Base, one of the most diverse in the country, not only plays 
a lead role in managing our nuclear weapons, but is both the home of 
state of the art Air Force Research Lab facilities and AFSOC's premier 
training wing--the 58th Special Operations Wing. Cannon Air Force Base, 
home of the 27th Special Operations Wing, is at the tip of the spear in 
our efforts to counter terrorist threats to the United States. Holloman 
Air Force Base, which was recently selected to receive additional F-
16s, continues a proud tradition of training our future F-16 pilots. 
Furthermore, White Sands Missile Range, which is utilized by all our 
services, is the premier testing facility in the country. Finally, New 
Mexico also shares the Army's Ft. Bliss with our neighbor El Paso.
  I would encourage Secretary Mattis to visit New Mexico as soon as 
possible to learn more about how New Mexico supports our Nation's 
military. I am proud to support them and our many veterans who have 
made New Mexico their home.

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