Chuck Schumer Announces Support for Chuck Hagel

Jewish Senator's Backing May Clear Way for Pentagon Pick

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

One of Chuck Hagel’s greatest potential obstacles on his path to approval as defense secretary has now been removed.

getty images

Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who made it known he had deep concerns over Hagel’s views on Israel and the Middle East, is now fully on board with the nomination. Schumer’s change of heart came after a 90-minute one-on-one meeting with Hagel Monday. Schumer’s position on Hagel was seen as pivotal, because of his standing in Senate and within the Jewish community.

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Schumer made clear he got all the clarifications he needed from Hagel. “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him,” Schumer’s statement read.

According to the New York senator, Hagel addressed in the meeting all the points of contention which have been highlighted by some in the pro-Israel community ever since the nomination was announced. He made clear he rejects a strategy of containment for Iran’s nuclear program and believes that dealing with Iran should be a top priority, using all means to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear capabilities, including military force.

Hagel also expressed support for all of the administration sanction measures against Iran, including further unilateral sanctions if necessary. While in the Senate, Hagel voted against some of the sanction resolutions explaining he did not believe unilateral moves would be effective.

Hagel also clarified that he does not support any negotiations with Hamas or Hezbollah until they give up terror and recognize Israel’s right to exist. The conversation also touched on Hagel’s controversial remarks about the “Jewish lobby.” Hagel, according to Schumer’s statement, expressed his regret for using the term.

“I know some will question whether Senator Hagel’s assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don’t think so,” Schumer concluded. “Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.”

Hagel’s pre-confirmation campaign also won over another Jewish senator, Barbara Boxer from California, who announced Monday she supports the nomination, following a phone conversation she had with Hagel. Boxer said she also received written response from Hagel regarding concerns she raised about his views on Israel and on LGBT issues.

The four-term California senator had held off backing the Hagel, but said Hagel would have her vote after they had a long conversation and after he wrote her a letter spelling out his positions on Iran, Israel, and the treatment of gays and women in the military.

“We spoke for quite a while last week and I was very pleased with that conversation,” Boxer told reporters on a conference call from California. She said she had not been aware of Schumer’s announcement and that the two had made their decisions independently.

Other key Jewish senators, including Carl Levin who chairs the Armed Services committee and Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, have already endorsed Hagel.

Hagel is expected to garner votes from all 53 Senate Democrats and between 10 and 15 Republicans, according to one observer who has been counting votes.

With Reuters


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.