Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — rumored to be a potential roadblock in the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, today announced his support of Hagel’s bid — following a lengthy meeting between the two.
Schumer was thought by many to be a bellwether on whether coordinated attacks on Hagel’s stance on Iran and Israel by neoconservatives were having the desired effect. In the aftermath of a ninety minute meeting between the two on Monday, Schumer made clear that the smear tactics of the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and others had not swayed his decision, announcing his support in a prepared statement:
Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him. [...]
I know some will question whether Senator Hagel’s assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post. But I don’t think so. Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.
In his statement, Schumer also noted that Hagel provided assurances on his commitment to female and LGBT service members, another concern of several members of the Senate.
By announcing his support, Schumer joins Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in firmly stating their backing of Hagel in the coming confirmation fight. “After speaking extensively with Sen. Hagel by phone last week and after receiving a detailed written response to my questions late today, I will support Sen. Hagel’s nomination as secretary of Defense,” Boxer said in a statement.
In an attempt to push Schumer, the Emergency Committee for Israel — one of the groups leading the charge against Hagel — took out a full page in today’s New York Times urging readers to call Schumer and Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) to oppose Hagel. Schumer’s announcement seems to make that ad moot.