Mattis waiver tied up in government shutdown fight
WASHINGTON – A last-minute budget showdown between Democrats and Republicans on Friday tripped up an effort to speed up Gen. James Mattis’ consideration as defense secretary.
The partisan fight over a four-month spending bill threatened to briefly shut down the government but it appeared unlikely to derail an included measure for Mattis, who needs a special waiver from Congress to be nominated because he has been retired from the Marines for less than seven years.
The measure would limit Senate debate over the Mattis waiver when Congress reconvenes next month, allowing Republicans to sidestep delaying tactics by Democrats in that chamber. President-elect Donald Trump announced earlier this month he will nominate the retired general to lead the Pentagon.
The overall $1.07 trillion budget bill would keep military and government funding on autopilot through April and avert a shutdown at midnight Friday when the current stop-gap spending measure expires. But Democrats were threatening to delay passage until Sunday over health benefits for coal miners.
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