There Will be a Hagel Confirmation; Alleluia!

February 12, 2013


Democrats confident they have votes to confirm Hagel

Tom Vanden Brook and Susan Davis, USA Today3:44p.m. EST February 12, 2013

Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon, has enough Senate votes committed to him to overcome a filibuster and secure the nomination, according to Sen. Carl Levin and an administration source working on the issue.

Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the armed services committee, and the administration source say at least 60 senators are committed to supporting Hagel. The administration source is not authorized to speak about the issue and requested anonymity because the vote has not taken place. Hagel would succeed Leon Panetta as Defense Secretary.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is considering his nomination today. Levin said at the hearing, “Some members of this committee strongly oppose President Obama’s foreign policy. But regardless how we may feel about the president’s policies our vote on senator Hagel’s nomination will not change those policies.”

Hagel had a rough hearing before that panel two weeks ago. Several Republican senators have voiced opposition to Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska, saying he hasn’t shown a strong enough commitment to Israel, doesn’t oppose Iran enough and has been too willing to reduce the U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons. Some senators have threatened to filibuster his nomination.

Monday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one his harshest critics and a former colleague, said he would not block a vote on Hagel’s nomination.

Hagel, 66, was born in North Platte, Neb., and went to a Catholic high school in Columbus. He and his brother Tom served in the same infantry division in Vietnam in 1968, one of the toughest years of fighting. They were both wounded, and Chuck Hagel, who pulled his brother to safety in one fight, was awarded two Purple Heart medals.

He went to vocational school to learn broadcasting and worked as a newscaster and talk-radio show host in Omaha in 1969. Hagel first came to work in Washington in 1971. He was chief of staff to Nebraska Rep. John McCollister until 1977.

As a senator, he voted to approve the use of force in Iraq but later criticized the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war. His critique of the Iraq War, particularly the surge of troops in 2007 that helped bring down violence there, angered McCain. The Arizona Republican blasted Hagel for it at his confirmation hearing.

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