GOP Senator No. 3 Backs Chuck Hagel as Path to Confirmation Clears

Pentagon Pick Wins Support of Richard Shelby

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Chuck Hagel’s path to confirmation as President Barack Obama’s new secretary of defense became more secure on Thursday when Republican Senator Richard Shelby said he would support the nomination.

Shelby joined almost every other Republican senator a week ago in delaying a vote on confirming Hagel in order to allow colleagues more time to examine Hagel’s record, said spokesman Jonathan Graffeo.

Fifteen other Republican senators signed a letter to Obama on Thursday asking that he withdraw Hagel’s nomination, saying they respect the military service of the decorated Vietnam War veteran, but he lacks the bipartisan support and confidence to serve effectively.

The White House said it still supports Hagel and expects he will be confirmed. Senate Democrats expect a vote on his confirmation next week, after Congress returns from a recess, and that Hagel will win the majority support he needs to become the chief civilian at the Pentagon.

Graffeo said Shelby now plans to vote for a motion to stop debate, ending the delay, and in favor of the nomination when the Senate considers whether to confirm Hagel, barring any surprises between now and the vote.

Shelby, a five-term senator from Alabama, served with Hagel during the nominee’s two terms as a Republican senator from Nebraska. He is at least the third Republican - along with Mike Johanns and Thad Cochran - to say he will vote for Hagel.

Democrats control 55 votes in the 100-member Senate, and none has come out against Hagel. While he has long looked likely to garner the 51 votes he needs to be confirmed, his backers feel it will strengthen him as Pentagon chief to have as much bipartisan support as possible.

REPUBLICAN OBJECTIONS

Many Republicans have fiercely opposed Hagel’s nomination as civilian chief at the Pentagon since it was announced on Jan. 7.

Hagel broke from his party as a senator by opposing former President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, infuriating some Republicans. Some have also raised questions about whether he is sufficiently supportive of Israel or tough enough on Iran.

Republicans also worry Hagel will be too supportive of any effort by Obama to include cuts in Pentagon spending as a way to deal with yawning U.S. budget deficits.

Hagel’s performance at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services committee also drew harsh criticism. Even some Democrats said he appeared at times unprepared or hesitant in the face of aggressive questioning.

The pressure against Hagel’s nomination continued with Thursday’s letter from the 15 Republicans, which cited among other things statements by the former senator they said “proclaimed the legitimacy of the current regime in Iran.”

But the White House, blasting what it called continued political posturing by Republicans it contends puts the country at more risk, said there were no plans for Hagel’s withdrawal.

“We firmly believe that Senator Hagel will be confirmed, but the waste of time is of consequence,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at his daily news briefing.

“There are 66,000 men and women in uniform in Afghanistan and we need our new secretary of defense on the job to be part of the significant decisions that have to be made as we bring that war to a responsible end,” he said.

Many of the senators who signed the letter have been among Hagel’s most vocal opponents. They included James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate armed services panel, and five other Republican members of that committee - Lindsey Graham, Roger Wicker, David Vitter, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

The other nine were Senators John Cornyn, Patrick Toomey, Marco Rubio, Daniel Coats, Ron Johnson, James Risch, John Barrasso, Tom Coburn and Tim Scott.


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!
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • 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.