House Republicans could attach language to a must-pass budget bill, set to be introduced this week, in order to get Donald Trump's pick for secretary of defense confirmed.
Why can't Mattis be the defense secretary?
Under U.S. law, a person has to be retired from military service for at least seven years before they can become secretary of defense. This is to ensure civilian control over the military.
But Mattis left the Marine Corps less than four years ago, and it will take a new law, which would need to go through both chambers of Congress, to give him a special exemption to take the job.
The continuing resolution
Democrats have said they wont approve new legislation to exempt Mattis, but House Republicans could force their hand by attaching language to the Continuing Resolution that would speed up the approval process for Mattis to become secretary of defense.
Democrats' hands would be tied. The continuing resolution (CR), which will fund the federal government through the spring, must pass by Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown.
That's possible... Should we automatically say, ok you're the best guy for the job but we can't do it because of this technicality? My thinking is no, and so I think Congress is likely to make an exception there for him because they think he is the best person for the job.
—Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio
Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot told Circa a CR loophole is 'possible.'
Democrats fight back
In a statement on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "Brushing aside the law that enshrines civilian control of the military - without discussion, in a massive must-pass funding bill - would set a terrible precedent."
She added that Republicans efforts to "shield" Trump's choice for secretary of defense from Congressional scrutiny are "troubling."
Sen. Gillibrand, D-NY also warned against the CR maneuver.