One of the louder voices against Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense is Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who questioned Hagel during confirmation hearings on Thursday, and reiterated why he’s voting against the former Republican senator.
“You could not pick a United States senator from the last decade who has had more anti-Israeli comments, that has had more troublesome votes, or more troublesome positions or statements against the nation of Israel,” Wicker told NewsNation’s Tamron Hall.
Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, compared Hagel’s harsh grilling to Sen. John Kerry’s swift confirmation by his former colleagues. Wicker said the increased uncertainty indicates Hagel’s strong weakness as a nominee.
“Frankly, a lot of us have served with Sen. Hagel,” said Wicker. “I think the fact that it’s going to be close, that there’s hardly any Republican support for him among people who worked with him and were in caucuses with him, and on committees with him, I think it speaks volumes about the level of confidence that we don’t have about this individual to head really the number one national security job in the United States.”
Wicker and Hagel served just over a year together in the Senate, when the Mississippi Republican was nominated to replace Trent Lott in December, 2007, and before Hagel retired in January, 2009.
Wicker has been one of Hagel’s more prominent critics, attacking his comments on Iran sanctions and penning a column in Politico that questioned Hagel’s commitment to Israel and a strong U.S. defense budget.
Wicker’s colleague in the Senate, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., has indicated that he will vote for Hagel’s confirmation.
As NBC's First Read puts the number of “yes” votes for Hagel at 56, Tamron Hall pressed Wicker on whether he would support a filibuster against Hagel’s confirmation. Wicker said he’d “consider that but it’s something that I’d have to think long and hard about.”
The committee and the full Senate could vote on Hagel’s confirmation as soon as next week.