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The Trump transition team is blocking retired Gen. James Mattis from testifying at the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday about his need for a waiver to serve as the defense secretary, according to a top Democrat.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday that the two leaders of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., are upset that the transition team is not allowing the former four-star to appear before the committee.

“Both have asked Gen. Mattis to testify, to testify before this piece of legislation came up. It is my understanding from Mr. Smith that the transition team has instructed Mr. Mattis not to testify. It is my understanding that Mr. Thornberry is not happy about that, I know Mr. Smith is not,” Hoyer said.

Mattis was scheduled to appear before the House committee on Thursday afternoon, but that hearing was canceled on Wednesday morning. He is still scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday morning for his regular nomination hearing.

“This is not a minor issue. This is a major issue affecting the principle of civilian control of the military, and Ranking Member Smith believes deeply that Gen. Mattis should come speak with the members about it,” a House Armed Services Democratic spokesperson said.

Asked why the transition team was not allowing Mattis to testify, a spokeswoman just said that the retired general is focusing on his Senate appearance.

“General Mattis’ current focus is on following the constitutional process for confirmation by the United States Senate and testifying at his confirmation hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. If confirmed he looks forward to working with both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, which play critical roles in supporting our forces and ensuring civilian control of the military,” Alleigh Marre told the Washington Examiner.

Traditionally, candidates only appear before the Senate for their confirmation hearing, but because Mattis’ situation requires a waiver that must also pass the House, some felt that he should testify before that chamber as well.

A spokesman for Thornberry did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Mattis, who President-elect Trump tapped to be the next defense secretary, retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, meaning he’ll need lawmakers to make an exception to the seven-year cooling off period out of uniform for him to serve as defense secretary. Mattis was expected to testify before the House committee before lawmakers mark up their version of the waiver.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the waiver issue on Tuesday with think tank experts.

Al Weaver contributed to this report

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