Oklahoma senators push back on Hagel nomination for secretary of defense
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
1/08/13 at 6:50 AM
Oklahoma's two Republican U.S. senators seem less than enthusiastic about the nomination of their former GOP colleague Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the highest-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said Monday in a written statement that Hagel's nomination "deserves to be fully vetted."
Sen. Tom Coburn said 10 days ago he does not consider Hagel qualified for the job.
A two-time Purple Heart recipient as an infantryman in Vietnam, Hagel worked in radio, as a congressional aide, as a lobbyist and as deputy administrator in the Department of Veterans Affairs before entering private business. He co-founded Vanguard, a cellular telephone company that made him wealthy, and later was president of an investment bank and a company that makes voting machines.
In 1996, Hagel was elected to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat James Exon of Nebraska. He served two terms and was an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2008.
Something of a political maverick, Hagel has rankled Republicans with his criticism of the invasion of Iraq and less than full-throated support of Israel. His generally conservative positions, both while in the Senate and since, have caused some liberals to oppose his nomination, too.
According to published reports, Inhofe indicated that he would support Hagel when the nomination was suggested last month but then quickly pulled back.
"In the months and years ahead, the Defense Department will be confronted with significant challenges, from budget issues to Afghanistan policy," Inhofe said in a written statement.
"I worked with (Hagel) in the Senate, and his nomination deserves to be fully vetted. The Armed Services Committee has a time-tested process to consider nominations, and I am committed to upholding that process.
"I am aware of the serious concerns about some of his policy positions, his record, and some of his comments that have been publically reported. I will be seeking clarification from him about these concerns as his nomination proceeds."
Coburn, appearing Dec. 29 on "Face the Nation," said he could not support Hagel "because of some of the positions he's taken and the statements he's made."
Original Print Headline: Senators fret at Hagel nomination
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