Following a grueling hearing on Capitol Hill that lasted nearly seven hours, Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said former Senator Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.) was “not an appropriate choice” to become secretary of defense, and therefore he would not support Hagel’s nomination.
Cruz did not equivocate. “I have serious concerns that if Chuck Hagel is confirmed as secretary of defense, it will encourage those who would seek to do harm to the United States, and it would make military conflict more likely not less likely,” he told National Review Online in an interview following the hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Cruz described Hagel’s views as “far outside the mainstream” on a host of critical foreign-policy issues — Iran, terrorism, and nuclear disarmament, among others. With respect to Israel, Cruz said Hagel’s record “demonstrated that he has consistently been the senator most antagonistic to the nation of Israel.”
He noted the “qualitative difference” between Hagel and Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.), who was recently confirmed as secretary of state in near-unanimous fashion. Most concerning, he said, was Hagel’s flip-flopping, a trait more commonly attributed to Kerry, on a number of issues, such as the viability of a “containment” strategy towards Iran.
“I thought it was striking, No 1., the degree to which he ran away from decades of strongly stated positions across the gamut of foreign policy,” he said. “Virtually every prior statement he has made on these issues, we were told today, is no longer operable.”
Cruz declined to say whether he would attempt to block Hagel’s confirmation, either by filibustering or placing a hold on his nomination. He had suggested earlier that he might do so, noting that Hagel had failed to provide requested documentation relating to hundreds of speeches he has given over the years, as well as information about the organizations paying him to speak, and their sources of funding. “I think we should do everything necessary to ensure that the committee and the full Senate has full disclosure, and an adequate time to review that disclosure,” he told reporters.
“That’s a decision every senator will have to make,” he said when asked if he would try to prevent Hagel from being confirmed. “I am hopeful that all of the senators will set aside partisan politics and look to Senator Hagel’s record.”