Senate confirms Chuck Hagel for defense secretary

In this Jan. 7, 2013, photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Defense Secretary-nominee, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Hagel says his months fighting in Vietnam alongside his brother Tom shaped his view of what it’s like to be a soldier in war, an experience that will inform his work if the Senate confirms him to be defense secretary. While Hagel, who was twice wounded, suggests caution when using military force, he also adopts a hard line toward Iran. His nomination hearings begin Thursday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais. File)

In this Jan. 7, 2013, photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Defense Secretary-nominee, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Hagel says his months fighting in Vietnam alongside his brother Tom shaped his view of what it’s like to be a soldier in war, an experience that will inform his work if the Senate confirms him to be defense secretary. While Hagel, who was twice wounded, suggests caution when using military force, he also adopts a hard line toward Iran. His nomination hearings begin Thursday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais. File)

WASHINGTON — The Senate has voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the nation's next defense secretary.

The vote Tuesday was 58-41, with four Republicans joining Democrats in backing President Barack Obama's nominee.

The vote ended a contentious fight over the president's choice for his second-term national security team.

Republicans opposed the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, casting him as out of the mainstream and overly critical of Israel. But Democrats stood together for Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran.

Hagel will succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.

The vote came just hours after Republicans dropped their delay and allowed the nomination to move forward. The Senate vote to end the filibuster was 71-27.

EARLIER:

Senate clears way for confirmation of Hagel as Defense chief

WASHINGTON — The Senate has voted to move forward on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, clearing the way for confirmation of President Barack Obama's choice.

The vote was 71-27 on Tuesday to end the GOP filibuster.

The Senate could vote later Tuesday to confirm Hagel, who has the necessary votes for approval. Hagel would succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.

Republicans had opposed Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska and Vietnam combat veteran. They cast him as out of the mainstream, questioned his support for Israel and suggested he was too willing to compromise with Iran.

EARLIER:

Senate to vote on moving ahead on Hagel nomination for Defense chief

WASHINGTON — A deeply divided Senate is moving toward a vote on President Barack Obama's contentious choice of Chuck Hagel to head the Defense Department, with the former Republican senator on track to win confirmation after a protracted political fight.

Twelve days after Republicans stalled the nomination, the Senate was slated to vote Tuesday on proceeding with the Hagel selection after GOP lawmakers signaled late Monday they would end their delaying tactics. If Hagel gets the necessary votes, it would just be a matter of time for a simple up-or-down vote, although Republicans could insist on the maximum 30 hours of debate before a final vote.

If confirmed, Hagel would succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and join Obama's retooled national security team just days before automatic, across-the-board budget cuts hit the Pentagon.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he was optimistic about the vote's outcome and said it was critical for the Senate to act quickly.

"Given sequestration, it's really important that we have a secretary of defense who is in place when that hits, if it hits," Levin told reporters Monday. "I want to still say 'if' because I'm a perennial optimist."

Hagel's nomination bitterly split the Senate, with Republicans turning on their former GOP colleague and Democrats standing by Obama's nominee.

The president got no points with the GOP for tapping the former two-term senator and twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran. Republican lawmakers excoriated Hagel over his past statements and votes. They argued that he was too critical of Israel and too compromising with Iran. They cast the Nebraskan as a radical far out of the mainstream.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., clashed with his onetime friend over his opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to send an extra 30,000 troops to Iraq in 2007 at a point when the war seemed in danger of being lost. Hagel, who voted to authorize military force in Iraq, later opposed the conflict, comparing it to Vietnam and arguing that it shifted the focus from Afghanistan.

McCain called Hagel unqualified for the Pentagon job even though he once described him as fit for a Cabinet post.

Republicans also challenged Hagel about a May 2012 study that he co-authored for the advocacy group Global Zero, which called for an 80 percent reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons and the eventual elimination of all the world's nuclear arms.

The group argued that with the Cold War over, the United States can reduce its total nuclear arsenal to 900 without sacrificing security. Currently, the U.S. and Russia have about 5,000 warheads each, either deployed or in reserve. Both countries are on track to reduce their deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 by 2018, the number set in the New START treaty that the Senate ratified in December 2010.

In an echo of the 2012 presidential campaign, Hagel faced an onslaught of criticism by well-funded, Republican-leaning outside groups that labeled the former senator "anti-Israel" and pressured senators to oppose the nomination. The groups ran television and print ads criticizing Hagel.

Opponents were particularly incensed by Hagel's use of the term "Jewish lobby" to refer to pro-Israel groups. He apologized, saying he should have used another term and should not have said those groups have intimidated members of the Senate into favoring actions contrary to U.S. interests.

The nominee spent weeks reaching out to members of the Senate, meeting individually with lawmakers to address their concerns and seeking to reassure them about his policies.

Hagel's halting and inconsistent performance during some eight hours of testimony at this confirmation hearing last month undercut his cause, but it wasn't a fatal blow.

There was no erosion in Democratic support for the president's choice and Hagel had the backing of three Republicans — Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Richard Shelby of Alabama. Other Republicans were reluctant to block a president's Cabinet choice from getting an up-or-down vote, fearing the precedent.

Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate, more than enough to confirm Hagel on a majority vote.

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Comments » 9

RayPray writes:

---Kinnock Biden?

---Janet Napolitano?

---John Kerry?

---Chuck Hagel?

---Ray LaHood?

What do these have in common?

The cleverest trick used by our great OBAMA is to locate the dumbest white people in DC and then install them around him.

In contrast to all these blockheads how can he fail to shine?

26yearsonmarco writes:

RayPray,

This might help you understand the connection:

http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/02/1...

1Paradiselost writes:

It's going to be a long 4 years for you boys!

The way your party acts toward the average working stiff, you may never see another Republican in the White House again!

26yearsonmarco writes:

1P,

I don't know if RayPray, or anyone else will agree with me, but I have always been a registered Republican all my life, and have always voted for the person I felt would do the best job regardless of Party. A good example is Bob Graham.

Today, I have no idea who I support because "They" all seem to be looking out for no one but themselves, and I could site Gov. Christi as a good example of what I mean after he signed the Bill allowing only union workers to be used for all Sandy repair work.

So, until the "s----- Is, As s----- Does" crowd wakes up, I will continue to do whatever is necessary for my family to survive this OBAMANATION they, and you elected.

1Paradiselost writes:

26...

Until your party steps up to the 21st century, you and your ideas will be in the minority. American has changed.

I give Gov. Christi a lot of credit for "doing the right thing" by looking out for the people of New Jersey. That is the job he was elected to do, Correct?

His poll ratings are in the 70% range. There's a reason for that like it or not.
Can you really say with a straight face that congress is doing the peoples business?

Please remember, Congress makes the laws in America, NOT the president!

RayPray writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

RayPray,

This might help you understand the connection:

http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/02/1...

The US spends more on 'Defense' each year than all the rest of the world combined.

Most of this is a waste of counterproductive Levantine wars and brigades of fat cat generals & admirals.

Where are our enemies today?

Whatever you think of them, Putin or China have zero interest in taking over California.

So it's not that Hagel is right or wrong. It's that he is a colossal dope, which all in DC can see.

Worse than being just s-----, which might not be his fault, is that he seems belligerently ignorant, which could get us into trouble....

RayPray writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Jack is one of our greatest big bankers....

He will certainly provide much needed inspiration for DC corporate rent-seeking and crony capitalism:

http://www.theinnoplex.com/news/newss...

RayNetherwood writes:

RP ... hit the nail on the head. ODUMDUM's "dumbing down" of DC has been a phenominal success, whether one looks at the Supreme Court or his Cabinet. Quite shocking and scary. Just as scary are the idiots in Congress.

We need Tom Clancy's fiction to become a reality ... of course Joe Joe Shoot the Shotgun Biden ain't Jack Ryan. Sigh.

RayNetherwood writes:

Klauschen, if there has ever been a master blogger of nonsense it would be the nitwit you see when standing in front of a mirror.

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