Hagel Gets Defense Secretary Confirmation

While not surprising, the former Senator Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Defense Secretary. The vote was an astounding 58-41, ending one of the most contentious confirmation fights for Secretary of Defense in U.S. history. Though Republicans had blocked the nomination earlier this month, ultimately they allowed a vote on Tuesday, resulting in Hagel’s confirmation.

Fox News reports,

Though Hagel is himself a former Republican senator, the resistance to his nomination showed an unusual level of distrust among many senators toward the man chosen to lead the Defense Department — at a time when the country is trying to wind down the Afghanistan war, while assessing emerging threats from Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the turbulent Middle East and North Africa.

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Republicans had earlier held up the nomination largely over demands for more information from the Obama administration on the Sept. 11 Libya attacks.

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But they also raised serious and recurring concerns about Hagel’s record of past statements and votes on everything from Israel to Iran to nuclear weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the delayed partisanship on the part of Republicans. While chastising the GOP senators for the delay in the vote, he extolled Hagel saying, “Twelve days later, nothing. Nothing has changed. Senator Hagel’s exemplary record of service to his country remains untarnished.”

“I think he will be entering as weak, based on his performance [in the confirmation hearing],” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “Sen. Hagel has got to prove to people he’s up to the job.”

“I just don’t see any negative effect on his capability to run the Defense Department,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).

“He’s going to be challenged,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). “I think he’s going to have to prove to the American people and the Congress that he can manage [the Defense Department], that he can efficiently handle the spending squeeze that he’s going to face.”

The votes were cast along party lines. However, Republican Senators Thad Cochran (MS), Mike Johanns (NE), Rand Paul (KY) and Richard Shelby (AL) all voted to confirm Hagel. The rest stood their ground.

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