Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Attempt to Erode Congressional Oversight

January 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement today after voting against attempts to erode congressional oversight of civilian control of the military. S.84, which would change the legal requirement for retired military officers to serve as Secretary of Defense, was pushed through the House without allowing the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) to hold a hearing with Secretary of Defense nominee Gen. Mattis before holding a vote on the floor.  
 
“My opposition to this legislation lies solely in the fact that Congressional leadership and the incoming Administration circumvented the democratic process by not allowing Members of Congress to question Gen. Mattis before voting to change the law that would allow him to serve as Secretary of Defense. Congress must be able to exercise its authority and responsibility to represent each of our constituents in the decisions we make and the laws that we pass. As a co-equal branch of government, we cannot continue to allow the Executive Branch to circumvent Congress.”

Background: U.S. law prohibits the appointment of former military officers within seven years of relief from active duty to the position of Secretary of Defense. S.84 would provide an exemption to the law for the first time since 1950.  
 
Earlier this week, the incoming Administration and Congressional leadership broke precedent and circumvented the democratic process in considering the legislation by:

  • Refusing to allow President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, to appear before the House Armed Services Committee as it considered the legislation;
  • Refusing to follow legal precedent by naming the nominee in the legislation itself, which would ensure the exemption is used solely for the intended nominee;
  • Failing to exempt the nominee from the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the legislation, should he be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

S.84 passed the Senate yesterday, and passed the House today by a vote of 268-151.

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