A key senator in the approval process, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he'll support former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary; the former Nebraska Senator is now likely to receive Senate approval for the job.
Many Senators expressed hesitation over the appointment due to a number of past Hagel statements that led them to believe he was soft on Iran, and anti-Israel.
Schumer, who is Jewish, issued a statement explaining his decision and admitting that he had “genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran,” but that after a 90 minute meeting with Hagel on Monday where the former Senator “clarified a number of his past statements and positions and elaborated on several others,” Schumer said he was ready to vote for him.
“Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him,” his statement read.
Schumer wrote that Hagel's views have aligned with his as the situation in the Middle East has worsened.
"In our conversation, Senator Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do “whatever it takes” to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force. He said his “top priority” as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran. He added that he has already received a briefing from the Pentagon on this topic."
He went on to explain that he believes Hagel's views to be genuine and not simply attempts to earn approval. "Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago," Schumer said. "His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality."