On the first day of President Donald Trump’s Administration, the Senate confirmed two of his Cabinet appointments. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was confirmed by the full Senate 98-1 while Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly was confirmed 88-11.
Senator Jeff Sessions, who was been nominated by President Trump to be Attorney General, did not vote on either nomination. It is tradition that sitting senators nominated for a Cabinet position do not vote on other Cabinet nominations.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was the lone vote against Mattis. She opposed Mattis because of the short amount of time since he retired from military service. Gillibrand also opposed the waiver for Mattis to serve as Defense Secretary. Civilian control of the military laws date back to World War II and require military personnel to wait seven years before serving as Secretary of Defense. Mattis had not been retired for seven years so a waiver was required in order for him to serve. One of Trump’s first acts as President was to serve the waiver bill.
Mattis and Kelly were both sworn in Friday evening by Vice President Mike Pence.
“I am honored and humbled to take on this responsibility to serve alongside the magnificent men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, and, I look forward to protecting our nation, its citizens, and preserving our liberty and upholding the rule of law as I continue my service to this great country,” Secretary Kelly said in a statement.
“I ask for your patience and prayers as I take on this tremendous task together with you, and my only plea is that together we focus our loyalty on the Constitution that we all have sworn to preserve and protect and the nation we love.”