WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) questioned President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense Retired General James Mattis during a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
Heinrich asked Mattis about the key threats to the security of the United States. Mattis replied, "I would consider the principal threats to start with Russia.
Earlier in the hearing, Heinrich invoked the Cuban Missile Crisis as a historical example of a time of crisis and raised concerns about the temperament of the incoming White House team. Heinrich asked Mattis how he would handle his post in times of crisis, "What assurances can you provide that if confirmed you will approach a time of crisis with the same temperament you have shown us today, and provide sound policy and guidance to the President-elect, particularly as it relates to something as serious as the use of nuclear weapons?"
Heinrich also highlighted the important work the men and women at the National Laboratories in New Mexico play in keeping the nation's nuclear weapons safe, secure, and reliable. He asked Mattis, "How important do you believe that deterrent is in terms of priority within your mission set, and will you continue to support the civilian control both in authority and in administration of that deterrent?"
Upon completion of the confirmation hearing, the committee proceeded to consider legislation to provide for an exception to a law against the appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces. Since Mattis has only recently retired from the military, Congress would need to change the law. Heinrich voted to support the waiver, which passed the committee by a vote of 24-3.