Sen. Jim Inhofe, the new ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, declined on Monday to express approval or disapproval of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense. The committee will hold confirmation hearings on Hagel.
Regarding Hagel’s nomination Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said:
“I have worked with Secretary (Leon) Panetta for many years, and during his tenure as Secretary of Defense, he has done an excellent job outlining the devastating impact defense budget cuts will have on our nation’s military. In the months and years ahead, the Defense Department will be confronted with significant challenges from budget issues to Afghanistan policy.
“I worked with Senator Chuck Hagel in the Senate, and his nomination deserves to be fully vetted. The Armed Services Committee has a time-tested process to consider nominations, and I am committed to upholding that process. I am aware of the serious concerns about some of his policy positions, his record, and some of his comments that have been publically reported. I will be seeking clarification from him about these concerns as his nomination proceeds.”
Regarding the nomination of John Brennan to be the new CIA chief, Inhofe said, “The Obama administration has an abysmal record of national security and intelligence leaks when it benefits the President’s agenda. And, the tragedy in Benghazi still pose many questions that have not been adequately answered for those of us in Congress and for the American people. As John Brennan’s nomination goes forward, the American people expect us to get answers on these and other subjects related to his nomination. I will be looking into his record more closely in the weeks ahead.”