Executive Sessionby Senator Jack Reed
Posted on 2013-02-14
REED. Madam President, parliamentary inquiry: How much time
remains on each side?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democrats have 22 minutes and the
Republicans have 12 minutes.
Mr. REED. Madam President, I yield myself 5 minutes.
As so many of my colleagues have described, Chuck Hagel is a soldier, a statesman, a businessman, a patriot. As my colleague from West Virginia pointed out, he could have chosen a much easier path in the 1960s, a path that many trod, but he chose the most difficult. He not only joined the Army, but he volunteered for Vietnam, when he had the opportunity to serve honorably and well in Europe. He joined his brother at Fort Dix. He knows the pressures our men and women face. And he knows the decisions we make here, and the decisions that are made in the Pentagon, ultimately are carried out by those young men and women in uniform. In fact, I can't think of anyone over the last several decades who has learned that lesson so well.
The other thing that is so impressive is that this is not a one- dimensional resume. Chuck Hagel was a businessman, and very successful. He founded his own company, created jobs, and created opportunities. He was the Deputy Administrator of the Veterans' Administration. He has run a large Federal agency. Very seldom do people come into one of these positions having run a Federal agency, or at least being the second in command. And he has been a U.S. Senator. So he knows very well the procedures and the personalities that are here in the U.S. Congress.
To me, though, some of the most compelling endorsements come from those who have actually done the job before. When Bob Gates and Bill Cohen and Bill Perry stand up and say, this is the person for the job, you have to believe that. These gentlemen have done the job for Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents, and they have done it with great distinction.
Then when you get somebody such as Brent Scowcroft, who is, in my view, one of the most knowledgeable and authoritative voices in national security, and was the National Security Adviser to President George Herbert Walker Bush--who also weighed in, along with Madeleine Albright--you have compelling, irrefutable evidence and testimony from those who have done the job that Chuck Hagel can do the job.
There has been a lot said and discussed as to whether he truly appreciates the relationship between the United States and some of our closest allies, particularly Israel. Here we have the current Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Danny Ayalon, who also serves as our Ambassador from Israel to the United States, saying that he has met him, he feels, in his view--and I will paraphrase--he has a true understanding of the natural partnership between the United States and Israel. Again, that is compelling evidence.
If you add to that the unconditional endorsement of several former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel, American patriots who have dedicated themselves to maintaining a strong, vital, vibrant, and crucial relationship for both the State of Israel and the United States, the evidence accumulates more and more that the President has chosen well and wisely.
This is a critical time. We are looking at conflicts in Afghanistan, we are looking at a nuclear detonation on the Korean peninsula, we are looking at budget problems that have never faced any previous Secretary of Defense and that have to be addressed within days or weeks. There is a ministerial meeting next week in Brussels for our defense ministers. We have to maintain our alliances. All these forces come together.
So I think the evidence is overwhelming. The President has chosen well and wisely.
But let me make one final point. This is a historic vote. By my recollection, no nominee for the Secretary of Defense has been defeated, delayed, or dismissed on a procedural vote.
Our history suggests, because of this office, because it is one so closely associated with the President making life- [[Page S744]] and-death decisions, that deference is given to that choice--at least that it is not caught up in a procedural battle, that there is an up- or-down vote. My colleagues, in good faith, after careful study, can vote yea or nay, but to defeat someone on a procedural vote would be unprecedented and unwarranted. As a result, I would urge that this procedural motion before us be carried, cloture be dispensed with, and we can get on to expressing our true feelings based on the evidence and based on our best judgment of whether Senator Hagel should serve as Secretary of Defense.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.