Senate Approves Mattis to Lead Pentagon

By Patricia Zengerle White House Reuters

The U.S. Senate confirmed the first member of Republican President Donald Trump's cabinet on Friday, voting overwhelmingly to approve retired Marine General James Mattis as secretary of defense just hours after Trump was sworn in as commander-in-chief.

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The vote was 98-1.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was the only no vote. She was also the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to vote against Mattis when the panel approved him by 26-1 earlier this week.

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions did not vote.

Gillibrand has said she admires Mattis. But she objected to waiving a law on civilian control of the U.S. military to allow him to lead the Pentagon only 3-1/2 years after retiring from the Marines, instead of the seven required by the statute.

Both Republicans and Democrats have heaped praise on Mattis, who is hugely popular with the Marines, since Trump announced his nomination.

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Congress passed the waiver last week, and Trump signed it shortly after he was inaugurated on Friday.

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