Republicans still question Hagel's nomination
February 17th, 2013
12:40 PM ET
9 years ago

Republicans still question Hagel's nomination

(CNN) – Sen. John Barrasso said Sunday that when Republicans held up a vote last week on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary, it wasn't a political ploy, but a sign of serious questions about the nominee.

"I have grave reservations," Barrasso said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think he's been wrong about Iran, wrong about Israel, wrong in Iraq, wrong with nuclear weapons. I absolutely plan to vote against him."

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The Wyoming Republican argued Hagel, who will likely be confirmed despite the GOP opposition, is going to be "less effective (at the Pentagon) because of the fact that the president nominated him."

"There were a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill that don't believe he was the best choice. I'm sure the White House is very disturbed with how poorly he did during the confirmation hearing," he said. "I think it is going to impact him as he tries to limp across the finish line to get confirmed."

Hagel has taken heat for not previous statements and positions, including his refusal to back unilateral sanctions against Iran in the past, though he said in his confirmation hearing that he supports the president's sanctions strategy. Others have questioned his association with an anti-nuclear proliferation group that calls for an elimination of all such weapons.

Most Republican senators voted Thursday not to end a filibuster against Hagel's nomination, with the next vote expected to take place February 26, after the Senate returns from recess. Many Republicans said by that time, they will be ready to move ahead and hold a final vote on Hagel.

Multiple reasons have been given for the delay on Hagel's nomination. A trio of Republican senators - Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte - refused to commit to a vote until they got answers from the White House on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya. They received those answers on Thursday.

Others, such as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, argue that Hagel has yet to provide certain financial disclosures requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Graham went further Sunday and described Hagel on Fox News as a "radical."

"We're doing our job to scrutinize, I think, one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a very long time," Graham said.

McCain on Thursday said GOP opposition also stemmed from "ill will" toward Hagel over the former senator's criticisms of then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq troop surge. McCain added that Hagel "was very anti his own party and people."

"People don't forget that," McCain said.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Sunday he has since spoken to McCain and believes the senator will ease up on his rhetoric and vote to end the filibuster when the Senate gets back from recess.

"I think Sen. McCain and others know that we all have to work together to get this thing done, because when it comes to national defense, national security, that, at least, has to be above politics," McDonough said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McCain, in fact, conceded Sunday on the same NBC program that he thinks Hagel will be confirmed.

"I don't believe he's qualified, but I don't believe we should hold up his confirmation any further," he said, saying he'll be ready to vote after recess.

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, said he didn't think President Obama's pick of Hagel was designed to start a fight. A strong backer of Hagel, Reed pointed to Hagel's experience as a Vietnam veteran.

"I think in fact what's happened is very unusual, unprecedented review, asking for speeches, going back five years, asking for all sorts of material we've never requested of confirmation before," he said on CNN. "We're confident that we'll get the confirmation concluded when we return at the end of the week."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. rs

    I think that "Republicans question" is incorrect inasmuch as that implies a thought process in action. In fact, what we are seeing is the spasmodic responses of a party with no leadership, and no compass- except fighting anything that will benefit America. Really, no Secretary of Defense in a time of war?

    Yes, the GOP should be on suicide watch, but frankly we're better off without them. Unfortunately, they want to take us all down with them. Maybe we can intervene with some psychotropic drugs to gat them to see reality again.

    February 17, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Yea sure, just like romney was going to win in a landslide .the gop won't be runing the house after 2014 mid terms!!!!!!

    February 17, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Who cares what the three gop stooges say ,they won't be returning after 2014 mid terms along with most of the other gop trash that get swept out to get our country moving again . We know who the problem is ,gop bs party !!!!!

    February 17, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Sen. John Barrasso said Sunday that when Republicans held up a vote last week on Chuck Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary, it wasn't a political ploy, but a sign of serious questions about the nominee.

    This is why I would never vote GOP , guys like Barrasso are an embarrassment to Democracy .

    February 17, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |

    We still don't know why the president didn't order reinforcements to be sent to Benghazi to help save those brave servicemen, when the ambassador himself requested help. This is beyond negligence – it's criminal. Whether or not Hagel is confirmed doesn't change that fact.

    February 17, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Feldman Hawkes

    If President Obama wanted to nominate a Republican for the post, I'm surprised he didn't ask Colin Powell.

    February 17, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. ChrisG

    The majority of Americans are sick and tired of GOP obstructionism. Then end is near for the GOP. McCain, the once great American war hero has become a blathering, bitter old dinosaur. Very sad

    February 17, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Evelyn Connaway

    You can't fix stupid republican politicians, except by voting them out in 2014 and 2016 and thereafter if there are any left. But then again – ignorance is an unlimited natural resource in the USA, especially Texas and the rest of the RED states. But we have a lot of young people who are much more intelligent than their peers who are greedy, corrupt, bigoted and prejudiced who have run this country for to many years – both democrats and republicans, who do not believe all men were created equal – and think money can buy everything. Come on young people and women, do your thing and fight against injustice on all scales. And help make President Obama make this a country we can be proud of>>

    February 17, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. vic , nashville ,tn

    “It wasn't a political ploy, but a sign of serious questions about the nominee.”

    Because Chuck Hagel is republicans , republicans don’t trust republicans

    February 17, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. BeverlyNC

    No they don't question it. This is a big game to Republicans. Hagel has nothing to do with Benghazi and this witchhunt on it is getting old and showing itself to be nothing but a meaningless witchhunt. Republicans love war because most of age ran from service in Vietnam while honorable men like John Kerry and Chuck Hagel served with distinction. Hagel knows the horror of war, that you are sacrificing lives of soldiers, wasting trillions of dollars, and it will never be a quick military action but conflict with no timeframe. Hagel believes in diplomay first with Iran, N Korea, and self-determination for most countries involved in the Arab Spring. Every time we interfere, we are the country hated for the interference and it raises the level of danger to us of terrorist attacks and retaliation. Republicans view war as a game and a way to make their Defense contractor friends rich. Cheney's company, Haliburton, has profited the most from Iraq and Afghanistan. We need a veteran to lead the Defense department. It's time to invest in America's infrastructure, poverty, and recovery before we go start more wars.

    February 17, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. montani42

    Hagel is inept and a misfit. He has NO management experience yet would manage billions of our tax dollars for defense. He is an enemy of Israel and a friend of our enemy Iran. Together he and Obama will let Iran build nuclear weapons because Obama wants Islamic countries become powerful despite his claim to be Christian. As far as RINOs like McCain, they have always kissed liberals' rear ends when it comes down to crunch time. McCain puts being buddies with any senator before the safety of the citizens of the USA.

    February 17, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. another democrat

    If supporting reason, facts, and campaigning for peace are radical, then I am all for it. Better than McCain who was favoring armed conflict with Iran before negotiations.

    February 17, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. Oh well...

    McCain is definitely in the category of "grumpy old men", time to retire!

    February 17, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. roro

    Since day one of this presidency, the obstructionist Repugs have blocked everything and everyone Obama has done, tried to do, or said. They've even denied and denounced him for those things they themselves promoted in the past. They will give him nothing, thereby giving the citizens of this country the same nothing. I can only pray that this is corrected next year when we vote them all out of the Congress.

    February 17, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |