In the Senate committee hearings on granting the exception to Gen. Mattis to serve as Sec Def, Sen./Chairman McCain said:

before you is a copy of section 179 of the recently enacted continuing resolution that provides for expedited consideration of a specifically described bill. S. 84 is the qualifying legislation prescribed in section 179 as qualifying legislation. S. 84 is entitled to an expedited procedure that will enable the incoming President to nominate him, for the Senate to give advice and consent for General Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense, hopefully on the evening of the upcoming inauguration day [...] In order to avail ourselves of the expedited procedure, the bill may not be amended.

What is that "section 179 of the recently enacted continuing resolution" saying exactly?

2 Answers 2


McCain (and in a similar context, Rep. Thornberry) appear to refer to Sec. 179 of H.R.2028.


I found a CRS summary of the procedure outlined in sec 179, most relevant is the 2nd para:

In addition to agency-, account-, and program-specific provisions, Section 179 of P.L. 114-254 establishes expedited parliamentary procedures governing Senate consideration of legislation that would waive a legal restriction related to the prior military service of the Secretary of Defense. Section 113(a) of Title 10 of the U.S. Code establishes that an individual “may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.”116 Unless waived, this restriction would bar retired Marine Corp General James N. Mattis, who has been selected by President-elect Donald J. Trump to be Secretary of Defense, from serving in that capacity. General Mattis retired from active duty in 2013.

In order to qualify for the expedited procedures, waiver legislation must be introduced during a 30-calendar day period that begins on the date that the 115th Congress convenes. The legislation may be introduced by the Senate majority leader, the minority leader, or their respective designees or by the chair or ranking minority member of the Committee on Armed Services. Both the title of the legislation and the matter after the enacting (or resolving) clause are stipulated. Once introduced, the legislation is to be referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services. If the committee has not reported the waiver legislation within five session days after the date of its referral, it is automatically discharged of further consideration of the measure.

Once pending on the Senate Calendar of Business (either by being reported or by the committee being discharged), it is in order to make a non-debatable motion to proceed to consider the legislation. This motion may be repeated if it has previously been disagreed to. All points of order against the waiver legislation and its consideration are waived. If the Senate adopts the motion to proceed, the waiver legislation would be pending and the Senate would consider the measure until it has disposed of it. There would be up to 10 hours of debate, divided and controlled by the party floor leaders or their designees. A non-debatable motion to further limit debate is in order. Amendments and potentially dilatory motions are barred. At the conclusion of debate, and after an optional quorum call, the Senate would automatically vote on passage of the waiver legislation. Passage of the waiver legislation in the Senate requires an affirmative vote of three-fifths of Members chosen and sworn—60 votes if there are no vacancies in the Senate—the same threshold required for cloture on most legislation. Should waiver legislation be subsequently vetoed, Senate consideration of a veto message would be limited to up to 10 hours.

Because these “fast track” procedures are enacted as a Senate rule in law, the Senate could adjust the provisions described above in whole or in part by unanimous consent. Section 179 does not establish any expedited procedures providing for House consideration of waiver legislation. Presumably such legislation would come to the House floor under the terms of a special rule reported by the House Committee on Rules or, depending on its level of support, under the suspension of the rules procedure.

  • Looks exactly the same.
    – user9790
    Jan 26, 2021 at 20:02
  • @KDog sect 179 of HR 2028 indeed includes the exact text of S.84, but the former (sect 179) is much longer because it also sets out the exact (expedited) procedure by which S.84 was later adopted. Jan 26, 2021 at 20:08

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