“Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel,” Mr. Schumer said in a prepared statement, “I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.” Mr. Schumer is likely to have influence over many of his Senate colleagues, particularly Democrats, who have been fretting over the nomination. He called Mr. Hagel Tuesday morning to let him know he was prepared to support him. [New York Times]
NO ONE really expected Senator Chuck Schumer to scuttle President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. However, the statement released by Schumer after a 90-minute interview is a message the White House needed.
Senator Schumer is considered the most influential Jewish member in the Senate.
Hagel’s mea culpa for his “Jewish lobby” comment no doubt helped. He’s also made a full commitment to enforcing and forwarding equality in the Armed Forces.
In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released Monday, Hagel called the remark a “poor choice of words,” and vowed that he would work to “expand the depth and breadth of U.S.-Israel cooperation” if confirmed for the Pentagon’s top post.
“I regret saying it,” Hagel wrote. “I used that terminology only once, in an interview. I recognize that this kind of language can be construed as anti-Israel. I know the pro-Israel lobby is comprised of both Jewish and non-Jewish Americans.”
[...]In the letter to Boxer, Hagel said he supports the complete repeal of the “discriminatory ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” and that he would “do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”
This post has been updated.