(CNN) - Badly burned after his armored personnel carrier hit a land mine in Vietnam, Chuck Hagel sat in a medical evacuation helicopter thinking of the horrors he had experienced during combat.
"If I ever get out, if I ever can influence anything, I will do all I can to prevent war," he would later tell his biographer, Charlyne Berens.
It was a seminal moment for the young soldier turned Nebraska senator who sources now say will be nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next secretary of defense.
Washington (CNN) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to work Monday morning for the first time since she was sidelined by illness, a concussion and a blood clot, according to a schedule released by the State Department.
According to the department's weekly schedule, Clinton held a meeting with assistant secretaries of state at 9:15 a.m. ET Monday. On Tuesday she'll meet with outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon at the White House before attending meetings with ambassadors at the State Department. On Friday Clinton will participate in events surrounding Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama signed into law Sunday a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package following delays over fiscal cliff bickering, warnings of dwindling federal funds and swirling controversy over millions of dollars for unrelated projects.
The measure passed the House on Friday, 354-67. The Senate approved the measure unanimously and without debate. The new law includes more than $9 billion to help the government pay flood insurance claims.
(CNN) – The eleventh-hour compromise that avoided the fiscal cliff cannot be repeated when it comes time to raise the nation's debt ceiling, top lawmakers agreed Sunday.
But whether Republicans and Democrats can agree on how to raise the debt ceiling - specifically, whether or not to pair the increase with spending cuts - remains to be seen.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama plans to announce former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next defense secretary and Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan as the nominee for CIA director on Monday, administration officials told CNN.
Two sources close to Hagel have also been told to expect the defense secretary announcement on Monday, and additional sources - a senior administration official and a source familiar with the nomination - said Obama spoke to Hagel Sunday by telephone.
(CNN) – Republican lawmakers voiced staunch opposition Sunday to their former colleague Chuck Hagel, who is expected to be nominated Monday to be President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense.
Hagel has taken withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike since his name was first floated as a potential successor to current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta more than a month ago. Republicans have struck upon comments in a 2007 interview that some perceive as anti-Jewish, when Hagel said the "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers."
(CNN) – The upcoming fight in Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling was previewed Sunday by two freshman lawmakers representing opposing viewpoints on whether spending cuts should be paired with the increase.
Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have said they plan to use the battle over raising the debt ceiling as leverage for more spending cuts, which were left out of last week's deal to avert the fiscal cliff. If the ceiling isn't raised by late February or early March, the United States runs the risk of defaulting on its obligations, because the Treasury would no longer have enough money available to pay all the country's bills.