A second Republican voices support for Hagel to lead Pentagon

WASHINGTON Sat Feb 2, 2013 4:57pm EST

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee to be

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee to be

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Mike Johanns said on Saturday he would support fellow Nebraskan Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, becoming the second Republican in the Senate to express public support for President Barack Obama's embattled nominee.

The Lincoln, Nebraska, JournalStar reported on its website that Johanns, a former Nebraska governor who holds Hagel's old Senate seat, issued a statement supporting Hagel. An aide to Johanns confirmed the report.

Johanns' backing increases the likelihood of Hagel's confirmation, despite bitter opposition by some Republicans and the former senator's cautious performance during a contentious confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Critics said Hagel performed poorly at times during his hearing, speaking hesitantly, seeming tired and often unprepared for some of the sharpest queries about his past controversial statements on Israel, Iran and U.S. nuclear strategy.

Hagel's nomination appears likely to clear its first hurdle - approval by the committee - with the support of all 14 Democrats on the 26-member panel and possibly some of its Republicans. The earliest that vote could come is Thursday.

Consideration by the full 100-member Senate would come later, likely within about a week of the committee vote.

Democrats control 55 seats in the Senate and none has come out publicly against Hagel.

Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi had already said he would vote for Hagel's confirmation.

Hagel can be confirmed by a simple majority of 51 votes unless Republicans use a procedural hurdle that would require 60. Some Republicans have said they would not back such a measure even though they would not vote for Hagel.

(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (21)
artvet2 wrote:
OMG – we would not want to see any first stringers on what has proven to be a team of second stringers!

Feb 01, 2013 7:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SpotlessCrab wrote:
I think he did fine and he explained every thing I wanted to know despite the badgering the GOP gave. I believe Hagel to be decent man. But the reason GOP doesn’t want him is he is not a war hawk.

Feb 01, 2013 8:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
usagadfly wrote:
Any US politician who questions obeying commands from Tel Aviv is “weak” in the eyes of someone like John McCain. That is how Hagel is “weak”.

Why is this blatant interference in US domestic politics by agents of a hostile foreign power tolerated? All the man did was to state what absolutely everyone who can read knows — yes, there is a Jewish lobby in the USA. It lobbies for the State of Israel and bears primary allegiance to it rather than to the USA. The primary one is known as AIPAC. Unless you pretend that this does not exist, and that its primary loyalty is not to the foreign country calling itself Israel, you are “weak”???

This sort of behavior is not in the interests of the USA or its citizens, including those active in AIPAC. Behavior has consequences, even for Israelis. Are there no intelligent Israelis who see this?

Feb 01, 2013 9:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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