U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after voting to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense.
"President Obama, like every other president, should have the opportunity to seek counsel from advisors he deems appropriate. However, I believe that the responsibility of Advice and Consent is an important Constitutional duty not to be taken lightly. When the nominee in question will be responsible for making recommendations directly to the President of the United States on matters of national security and the well-being of our military men and women and their families, the obligation becomes a solemn one.
"I respect Chuck Hagel as a former Senate colleague and decorated Vietnam Veteran. I believe him to be an honorable public servant with the best intentions for our country and its national security. After a one-on-one meeting, monitoring a lengthy confirmation hearing and reading all materials available, I can report that Senator Hagel did allay many -- but not all -- of my concerns related to his previous, public positions on the use of military force, how the U.S. should deal with a belligerent Iran, and his support of Israel. As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I intend to hold Secretary Hagel accountable to his public commitments made during the confirmation process about preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state and upholding America's strong support for our ally Israel. Like others, I also believe his views on LBGT Americans in the military and civilian life have evolved for the better. It is my expectation that Secretary Hagel will work to continue to implement new policies put in place by Secretary Panetta, including making the U.S. military a model for the nation of nondiscrimination and developing a smart budget for the Pentagon that targets wasteful spending and modernizes the U.S. military for current-day threats.