The U.S. House Armed Services Committee approved legislation to allow retired Gen. Mattis to serve as defense secretary but the vote was split along party lines due to a Trump transition team decision to cancel his testimony

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Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis failed to appear Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee that took up legislation required for him to serve as defense secretary.

As a result, what would have be a much more routine meeting of the committee to approve that legislation instead resulted in a vote that was sharply split along party lines. The final vote approving the measure was 34 in favor and 28 opposed, with Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, and the ranking minority member on the committee, leading the opposition.

Matti’s appearance before the committee had initially been expected to be part of a busy Thursday for the native Washingtonian who appeared Thursday morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The congressional legislation would give Mattis, who left the Marines in 2013, an exception from a law that requires a defense secretary be at least seven years removed from military service.

House committee members had expected to be able to question Mattis before the vote, and Mattis had indicated he was eager to do so, according to committee members.

Rep. Mac Thorneberry, R-Texas, said Thursday that he was disappointed to learn that the Trump transition team informed Mattis he should not appear before the House.

“I think that’s a mistake,” said Thorneberry, the House Armed Services chair, who still spoke in favor or the legislation’s passage by the committee.

Smith withheld support for the legislation, saying the House was rushing to approve legislation without a hearing and proper oversight.

He has spoken favorably of Mattis, calling him an “excellent and professional general officer.” But on Thursday Smith said the cancellation of the retired general’s committee appearance was an early indication of the incoming executive branch under President-elect Donald Trump usurping the authority of the legislative branch.

“All we are asking today is … that we just don’t roll over because someone in Trump Tower says … ‘no we aren’t going to send him’ … and for no good reason,” Smith said during the Thursday afternoon committee meeting.

Smith also said he had concerns about the way the legislation was written, in part because it would authorize another former military officer to take the position if Mattis failed to gain the appointment. Also, he said the legislation should express congressional concerns about future exceptions to the law.

The full Senate, however, approved the exception legislation Thursday afternoon, and that legislation is expected to be voted on by the full House on Friday.