Share This Page

Hagel approved as GOP pulls no punches

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A bitterly divided Senate panel on Tuesday approved President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the nation's Defense secretary in a rancorous session at which Republican questioned the former GOP senator's truthfulness and challenged his patriotism.

On a party-line vote of 14-11, the Armed Services Committee voted to send the nomination to the full Senate, where Republicans have threatened to delay a vote on the president's choice to succeed Leon Pa-netta.

Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel, a twice-wounded Vi-etnam combat veteran and former two-term Ne-braska senator, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would press ahead with a vote on the most divisive nominee of Obama's second-term national security team.

Hagel has faced fierce opposition from Republicans, who have challenged his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, Iraq and nuclear weapons, but the two-hour-plus session took an uncomfortable turn for some members of the traditionally bipartisan panel.

Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted that Hagel provide information on compensation for paid speeches over a five-year period — three years more than required — and suggested that without the information, the committee wouldn't know whether Hagel got money from “extreme and radical groups.”

Cruz also suggested that Hagel's unwillingness to cooperate indicated that he was being less than forthcoming with the panel about possible payments from foreign sources.

Hagel had told the committee that during the past 10 years neither he nor his wife had received any compensation from, or been involved in any business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, accused Cruz of going over the line.

“You basically have impugned the patriotism of the nominee” with suggestions that he is cozy with Iran, Nelson said. “You also stated your opinion that you don't think he's truthful. Those are two fairly strong statements.”

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said reports about Iranian leaders praising Hagel's nomination back Cruz's claim. “You can't get cozier,” the panel's top Republican said.

It fell to Republican Sen. John McCain to offer the strongest defense of his onetime friend, political ally and fellow Vietnam veteran.

“Sen. Hagel is an honorable man. No one on this committee should impugn his character and integrity,” said the Arizona lawmaker, who later voted against the nomination.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.