WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican lawmakers are continuing their filibuster of Chuck Hagel to head the Defense Department, citing controversial statements he’s made in the past.
It’s the first use of the filibuster against a nomination for Secretary of Defense in American history.
Hagel came under fire at his confirmation hearing for actually saying the United States should try to negotiate with countries before invading them and wanting to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But one of the most damaging statements came in an official biography, when he said, “I will do all I can to prevent war,” — a sentiment that pretty much everyone thinks is the worst idea ever.
“You are soft on defense,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said during the hearing. “How can you favor cutting the defense budget now that our wars are ending? How will the Army afford the useless equipment that’s built in my district?”
And even some Democratic senators are expressing second thoughts.
“I reviewed some of your statements about the Iraq war,” Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said. “It looks like you are opposed to thousands of American soldiers dying for no reason. Do you really think you can lead the military with that attitude? Our troops are going to look at you and say ‘He isn’t going to get us stuck in another endless, pointless occupation. Fuck that guy.’”
The former Republican senator has also been criticized for once saying, “I am an American senator, not an Israeli one.”
Politicians and cable news pundits alike pounced on the remark, attacking him for making a factually accurate statement and naming the country where he held political office.
To break the filibuster, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needs to wrangle up at least 60 votes. At press time, the senator’s aides have confirmed that he has 55 Democrats and 3 Republicans.