January 20, 2017

Udall Statement on Senate Votes on National Security Nominees

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following statement after voting on the nominees to lead the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump Administration. Udall voted to confirm General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and voted against confirming General John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security.

"While I have deep concerns about President Trump on matters of foreign policy and national security, I believe that Americans deserve to have a qualified team in place, regardless of who the president happens to be or what party he or she is from. When nominees who have the right background, experience, and vision to lead their respective agencies are put before the Senate, the national interest demands that we not delay in confirming them. For that reason, I voted to confirm General Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense, a broadly qualified individual who has dedicated his life to service of country.

"I did have serious misgivings about General Mattis' nomination, given that it defied the law that has been in place since World War II to protect the essential American principle of civilian control over the military. I opposed legislation to create an exception for General Mattis to the law that restricts people from serving as Secretary of State until they have been retired from the military for at least seven years, and I intend to vote against waiving that law as long as I am a member of the Senate. However, I don't oppose General Mattis on the merits. He has an impeccable and distinguished record of service in the United States Marines, and he demonstrated in his Senate confirmation hearings that he understands the gravity of the role he will assume. I believe he will be a voice of measured and candid leadership for the United States, and I look forward to discussing with General Mattis the important role that New Mexico plays in ensuring our national defense.

"I voted against confirming General Kelly because I am strongly opposed to the reckless homeland security policies that President Trump has articulated on the campaign trail and since being elected. While I have great respect and appreciation for General Kelly's long and distinguished career in the Marines, I worry that as Secretary of Homeland Security, General Kelly will feel it necessary to work to advance President Trump's backwards vision on immigration. For instance, General Kelly was unable to promise the Senate that the administration will refrain from deporting our nation's DREAMers, and I am troubled by his stated plans to reverse the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Furthermore, General Kelly did not provide sufficient assurance that he fully opposes the president's wasteful and misguided plan for a border wall. New Mexico is a majority minority border state with thousands of hardworking families now living in fear of President Trump's immigration plans. I am gravely concerned that General Kelly will be the instrument of the president's harmful homeland security agenda.

"General Mattis and General Kelly have their work cut out for them if President Trump continues to publicly undermine the intelligence community, our military, and our allies abroad with impulsive and erratic statements. Now that they have been confirmed by the Senate, they have a solemn duty to do everything in their power to keep the American people safe - and to push the president to be more thoughtful and steady with our nation's security."