Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., requested President Obama reconsider his nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel two days before the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman had said he hoped to vote on the nomination.
Graham and other Senate Republicans grilled Hagel during his nomination hearing about his support of Israel and his previous statements suggesting that U.S. diplomats engage Iran on its nuclear program.
Hagel often repeated his stances on Israel and Iran that hewed closely to the Obama administration policy. However, he slipped in the beginning portion of the hearing when he said he supported the policy of containing Iran. He corrected the record after the break.
Graham said it would be irresponsible to vote for Hagel because he didn’t seem sure of the U.S. policy regarding Iran.
“Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times. What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for Secretary of Defense seems clueless about what our policy is? I hope the Obama Administration will reconsider his nomination,” Graham said in a statement he issued Tuesday.
The White House waits to see if the Republicans mount a filibuster against Hagel’s nomination. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has told reporters that he would oppose such a move.
“I do not believe a filibuster is appropriate and I would oppose such a move,” McCain said.
Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, has told reporters that he would like to vote on the nomination on Thursday. However, a filibuster would delay such a vote.
Defense analysts predicted last week that the Obama administration had the votes to confirm Hagel. It is rare for a cabinet nominee to be rejected. The last president to have a cabinet nominee rejected was George H.W. Bush when he nominated John Tower as defense secretary.