By Javier Manjarres
The Senate Armed Services Committee will be thrust onto the political center-stage shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, when it hosts the hearings to confirm former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the next Defense Secretary of the United States.
While prominent Republican Senators like Marco Rubio have said that Hagel’s foreign policy toward Cuba is “outdated” and “unrealistic, others are voicing their concerns or opposition to Hagel’s nomination.
But while Democrats hold an 14-12 edge over Republicans on the committee, if Hagel were to be confirmed, it would be by the narrowest of margins, as pressure from his opposition continues to mount.
Senator Ted Cruz has already come out against Hagel stating that, “he is not a good fit for secretary of Defense.” Cruz continued,“I expect to oppose his nomination for several reasons.”
Republican Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte are almost certain to vote against a Hagel nomination, with most, if not all of the other Republican senators to join their colleagues and also oppose Hagel. One of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus in the Senate, Mike Lee, has been close-lipped about how he would vote but did state that he was looking forward to the “opportunity to discuss not only his qualifications for the position and his approach to defending the United States and her allies.” This is code for ‘fat chance I will vote for you, Chuck.’
Senator Lee, like Rubio, is a strong supporter of the state of Israel. Regardless of how Hagel tries to spin the controversial statements he’s made in the past about Israel, the offended Jewish community who wields a very powerful fundraising fist that many of these Senators rely on during campaign season will undoubtedly lean on members and their staff to vote against Obama’s pick for Secretary of Defense.
I expect Lee to come out swinging at Hagel, questioning his past statements on Israel, and to subsequently vote against his nomination.
The problem that President Obama and Chuck Hagel have is that there are Democratic Senators quietly sitting on the fence who are rumored to be leaning against the nomination. The ‘Jewish Lobby’ is that influential, don’t discount it.
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