“I share many of the concerns expressed by my colleagues regarding Senator Chuck Hagel’s positions on many national security policy issues. His performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee was discouraging and disappointing, and his often adversarial attitude toward legitimate questions from Committee members was troubling.
“At the same time, I have full confidence in the Committee’s rigorous process for vetting nominees, which has been developed and relied upon for decades by Members of both parties. This process ensures a comprehensive and thorough examination of every aspect of a nominee’s history, including but not limited to personal and public records, tax returns, potential conflicts of interest, and an FBI background check, all carried out by highly experienced professionals from both parties. As a member of the Committee for 26 years, and most recently as Ranking Member, I have always been confident that no matter how I personally felt about a particular nominee, the Committee’s process produced the information that Members needed to make up their minds on the President’s nominees and to vote on them within the Committee.
“The integrity of the Armed Services Committee’s nomination process is vitally important. It ensures that no matter which party holds power in the White House or the Senate, nominations for critical national security positions are handled in a fair and appropriate manner that is mindful of the enormous responsibilities these positions hold for our nation’s defense. With this in mind, I have examined the information and responses to Members’ questions that Senator Hagel has provided to the Committee, and I believe that he has fulfilled the rigorous requirements that the Committee demands of every Presidential nominee to be Secretary of Defense. As a result, I believe it is appropriate for the Armed Services Committee to vote on Senator Hagel’s nomination and determine whether to move this nomination to the Senate floor where Members can debate and express their own judgments on Senator Hagel. I will not participate in any walkout of tomorrow’s Committee vote – an action that would be disrespectful to Chairman Levin and at odds with the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Finally, I share Senator Graham’s deep concerns about unanswered questions regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. The American people deserve to have all the answers about why four brave Americans died in Benghazi, and this Administration’s actions – including those of the President – before, during and after that tragic day.”