Out of all of Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees, it was a soldier [Marine] nicknamed “Mad Dog” whose nomination to lead the Department of Defense that prompted an unusual sigh of collective relief. Unlike the other neophytes and extremists in his White House menagerie, renowned general James Mattis was received with bipartisan affirmation, hailed by Democrats and Republicans alike for his moderate, level-headed approach to policy. But much has changed in the two months since the Senate broke decades of precedent to confirm the retired Mattis, despite his having recently served in the military. While “Mad Dog” was at first hailed as a potential moderating force on Trump, Republicans now worry that he might be too moderate after all.

Republican lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill tell Politico that they’ve grown frustrated with the defense secretary for not being a sufficiently vociferous defender of the president’s agenda. For one, Mattis has been hesitant to push for additional military spending, despite Trump’s call for a massive $54 billion increase in the defense budget. Some Republicans are concerned that Mattis’s reticence could undermine efforts to overturn past cuts, specifically the 2013 sequestration, which they believe are still not adequately addressed by Trump’s budget.

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