US Senate panel overwhelmingly approves Donald Trump Pentagon pick

Retired Marine General James Mattis (above) got overwhelming approval from the Senate.
Retired Marine General James Mattis (above) got overwhelming approval from the Senate.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Senate Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday (Jan 18) to recommend President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Defence, retired Marine General James Mattis.

The committee voted 26-1 to back Mattis' nomination when it is received by the full Senate from Trump after he is sworn in as president. As a result, Mattis' nomination will be sent directly to the Senate for a vote without referral to the committee.

The identity of the senator who voted against Mattis was not immediately available.

Congress cleared the way for Mattis' quick confirmation last week by backing a waiver that would allow him to lead the Pentagon despite retiring from active duty as a Marine general only in 2013.

The 66-year-old Mattis, who is highly respected by many fellow Marines, retired 3½ years ago after more than four decades of military service. The 1947 National Security Act requires a seven-year gap between active duty military service and the Cabinet position.

Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress and Democrats have both heaped praise on Mattis since his nomination was announced.