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General Mattis approved by Senate Armed Services Committee

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GeneralJamesMattis-afpWASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Armed Services Committee voted decisively Wednesday to approve Donald Trump’s pick for , clearing the way for retired Gen. James Mattis to be confirmed shortly after the president-elect is sworn in.

On a vote of 26-1, the Republican-led panel agreed that Mattis’ nomination should be sent directly to the full Senate for consideration instead of first being referred to the committee. Although Trump selected Mattis last month, he can’t formally nominate him until after he’s inaugurated on Friday.

The move bypasses a procedural hurdle and all but ensures there will be a seamless transition at the . Ash Carter has been serving as President Barack Obama’s .

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., cast the lone vote against Mattis. Gillibrand opposed Mattis from the start because she said his appointment undermined the principle of civilian control of the .

Congress last week approved legislation that grants a one-time exception for Mattis from the law that bars former service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top job. The restriction is meant to preserve civilian control of the .

Mattis retired from service in 2013 after a 41-year career in uniform.

Confirmation of Mattis by the GOP-led Senate is virtually certain. The legislation granting the exception cleared the Senate 81-17. Thirty Democrats backed the bill, suggesting they’ll also vote to confirm him. In addition to Mattis’ qualifications, many Democrats believe he’ll counterbalance Trump’s impulsive, bombastic style.

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