Chuck Hagel: New US War Secretary
The US Senate confirmed on Tuesday Chuck Hagel as President Barack Obama’s new secretary of war on, after an unusually acrimonious confirmation fight that threatened to complicate his work as civilian leader at the Pentagon.
The Senate voted 58-41 to confirm the former Republican senator, the closest vote ever to approve a defense secretary.
Just four Republicans – Mike Johanns of Nebraska, who holds Hagel’s old Senate seat, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Rand Paul of Kentucky – joined the Democrats and independents in support of Hagel’s nomination. Hagel is best known for favoring diplomacy on Iran, anti-positions for nuclear weapons and “Israel”, and his opposition to the US war on Iraq.
The bruising battle over Hagel was one of many bitter partisan struggles between Democrats and Republicans at a time when Congress is widely criticized for its inability to agree on even the most basic measures to run the country.
The Senate had voted earlier on Tuesday to end debate on Hagel and move forward, almost two weeks after Republicans launched a filibuster to block the nomination. It was the first ever used to delay consideration of a military head nominee, prompting Democrats to accuse Republicans of jeopardizing national security.
Republicans have also challenged Obama’s choice to be CIA director, John Brennan, although that nomination appears to be on track, with a vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee expected on Thursday.
In a sign that opposition to Obama’s nominations could be easing, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday backed his nominee to lead the US Treasury, Jack Lew, with the support of about half the panel’s Republicans.
After the hard-fought victory, the Democratic president said he was pleased there had been bipartisan support for Hagel.
“I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people,” Obama said.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by moqawama.org