Udall Shines in Astute Questioning of Chuck Hagel

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Udall asked Hagel three questions during the hearing, focusing on Israel and the threat of a nuclear Iran, issue of cyber security and whether Hagel will ensure that gays are treated equally in the military.

“Will you ensure that the Dept. of Defense, in accommodating religious beliefs or matters of conscience, does not tolerate discrimination or harm to others?” Udall asked.

“Absolutely. I will faithfully, diligently enforce our laws,” Hagel responded. “All men and women deserve the same rights and I can assure you that that will be a high priority, that I will enforce that and assure that in every way throughout the entire line, the chain of command and accountability.”

Leading to this statement from Sen. Mark Udall's office late yesterday: 

"Sen. Hagel showed me today and throughout his confirmation process that he understands the issues facing the U.S. military, and that he agrees we need to pursue a smart, but tough national security policy. I believe he will stand with Israel and our allies, take every necessary step to prevent a nuclear Iran, treat all service members equally regardless of their sexual orientation and strengthen our cybersecurity," Udall said. "Without question, Chuck Hagel will bring his remarkable experience as both a combat veteran and an outspoken Senate leader to the Pentagon. I intend to support Sen. Hagel’s confirmation as our country's next Secretary of Defense."

Udall met with Hagel in mid-January to discuss a wide range of issues, including appropriate levels of military spending and his concerns about Hagel's past statements about Iran and the United States' relationship with Israel. During that meeting and at the hearing today, Udall pressed Hagel to affirm that every option is on the table with regard to Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, including the use of military force. Then and today, Udall also urged Hagel to support the Department of Defense’s role in leading cybersecurity efforts and training warriors in Colorado for this new battlefront.

Udall, who led efforts to repeal the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy, also successfully pressed Hagel today to clearly state that all service members will be treated the same, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Bottom line: even though former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel had already made many assurances that he had matured from prior negative statements about an openly gay man nominated for a diplomatic post in 1998, there was of course a need for the matter to be aired in public. Everything we've heard suggests that the LGBT advocacy community–a very powerful force in Colorado politics–is satisfied with Hagel's answers on the subject yesterday. Hagel's frankness on issues like the Iraq war predispose him favorably to most Democrats including Udall, so with this matter addressed, his approval, at least by the Senate Armed Services Committee, is looking better. 


Hagel was apparently less persuasive, however, with his former Republican colleagues. NBC News reports on the GOP's limited options:

With 53 Democrats plus two independents who vote with the party in the Senate, Mr. Hagel, 66 years old, would seem to have enough support to win approval. Republicans now face the potentially explosive decision about whether to filibuster his nomination, which would mean Mr. Hagel would require the support of 60 senators.

An outright filibuster of a cabinet nominee would be unprecedented. Senate records reflect no instance of a filibuster being used to block a cabinet nominee, although nine have been defeated outright, without filibusters, and another 12 were withdrawn, sometimes in the face of a filibuster threat. Such a move also would engender Democratic anger and bitterness that could spill over into other areas.

We'd say maybe this quibble over the "surge" isn't worth a knock-down drag-out brawl, but we'll have to wait and see if John McCain agrees.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    I dunno about McCain. I'd say he might really die on this hill, but I'd hate for that to become literal and disrespectful. He's getting kind of creaky like.

  2. Gilpin Guy says:

    Nice job by Udall.

    He is a shining light of thoughtful performance compared to McCains clown show yesterday.  All McCain wanted to do was play "gotcha" politics about Iraq.

    Good for Udall to bring reasonableness into this confirmation hearing.

  3. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    I'd LOOOVE to see a fillibuster of Hagel.

    I he didn't get the nomination, we'd be deprived of the opportunity to have a former enlisted soldier take the axe to the Pentagon budget, but there are others who could achieve that same end.

    A fillibuster would be an awesome PR opportunity to further cement the image of the Senate minority as obstructionist enough to block one of their own, and an illustration of just how far right the party has moved that a former republican Senator (from Nebraska for christ's sake) can't meet their approval.

  4. Serenitynow says:

    John McCain:

    Mr. "Anthrax may have come from Iraq,"

    Mr. "We will be greeted as liberators,"

    Mr. "I wouldn't violate Pakistan's sovereign territory to get Bin Laden"

    He ran for President after all of these blunders.  He has a lot of gall to self-righteously demand a yes or no answer on whether anyone was correct on any single foreign policy issue and act like it might disqualify them from Secretary of Defense.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      McCain is just an increasingly irrelevant grumpy, dotty, angry old man for whom everything is personal.  Nothing is about his country or even his party. Just about himself, his grudges, his revenge, his pay back.  He used to be a somebody.  Now he's just pathetic.

      Why he's considered some kind of expert on military matters is beyond me.  His main experience in Vietnam was being an isolated POW.  He faced that courageously but it doesn't make him any kind of expert on that war or wars in general.

      Incidentally, my Vietnam vet husband is thrilled to see an enlisted man about to become head of Defense for the first time.  Our vets will finally have someone who puts them first.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        an enlisted man about to become head of Defense for the first time. Our vets will finally have someone who puts them first.

        amen…about time.

      • roccoprahn says:

        you're so right. Watching McCain "lecturing" former Senator Hagel on a conversation with former SOS Rice over Iraq, I came to the exact conclusion you did BC. And he just kept going. Getting more bitter every minute. McCain seems to believe shouting at Hagel will revise the history of the failed Iraq war and his cheerleading part in it.

        That somehow, we'll forget 1200 Americans died in the surge and 1000 more before we withdrew.

        Hagel called it right.

        And the irony didn't escape me, either. McCain actually questioned Hagel's judgement on National Security.

        The man that actually showed the poorest of judgement imaginable, who literally put the national security of his country at hazzard, placing Sarah Palin potentially a 72 year old's heartbeat away from the Presidency as his Vice Presidential pick, has absolutely zero credibility on national security.The choice of a twit that actually thought we were in Iraq because Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11 will be his legacy from now on and forever.

        Time to take grampa's keys away, he's just embarrassing himself, his  State, his party (that's easy) and his country.

        Somebody in his family surely loves the old fool enough to talk him into retiring.

        And I agree with your husband. I was an EM, I did a combat tour, southern tip of the Camau Peninsula in 1969, and I'm thrilled Chuck Hagel will be DOD.

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