Senate Confirms Mattis, Kelly to President Trump's Cabinet - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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Senate Confirms Mattis, Kelly to President Trump's Cabinet

Both are retired Marine Corps generals; Trump is "proud to have these two American heroes" joining his administration



    Senate Confirms Mattis, Kelly to President Trump's Cabinet
    Getty Images, File
    Retired generals James Mattis and John Kelly at their Senate confirmation hearings in early January. They were the first two members of President Donald Trump's cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate, in votes that came hours after Trump's inauguration.

    The Republican-led Senate has voted to confirm the first two members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet: James Mattis as defense secretary and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security.

    Only one senator, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, who challenged the idea of a former military leader in a civilian job, voted "no" to Mattis. Eleven senators, all Democrats, voted against Kelly's nomination.

    "These uniquely qualified leaders will immediately begin the important work of rebuilding our military, defending our nation and securing our borders. I am proud to have these two American heroes join my administration," Trump said in a statement from the White House, his first as president.

    Trump also called on the Senate to quickly confirm the rest of his Cabinet nominees.

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    In Mattis's case, Republicans pushed for fast approval to ensure the post wouldn't be empty even for a brief amount of time after Trump's swearing-in. Mattis will replace Ash Carter, who has been former President Barack Obama's defense secretary since February 2015.

    Congress had to pave the way for Mattis to serve. Lawmakers last week passed legislation that Trump signed granting Mattis an exception from the law barring former service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the job.

    Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013.

    Kelly is also a former Marine. As the former head of the military's Southern Command, based in South Florida, he routinely worked with the Department of Homeland Security to combat human trafficking and drug smuggling.

    He told senators last week he favors a wall to secure the border with Mexico but said that such a structure alone won't be enough. Kelly does not support any registration of people in the United States based on ethnicity or religion. He also said he accepts with "high confidence" reports from the intelligence community that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.