U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement today after meeting with Senator Chuck Hagel ahead of his confirmation hearing next week:
"Senator Hagel and I just had a frank and expansive conversation in my office that explored his record and views on a number of issues that had caused me concern. I am satisfied that his substantive answers were sincere.
"I fully expect that in the upcoming confirmation hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Hagel's testimony will reflect a deep commitment to carrying out the Obama administration's policies of ensuring Israel maintains a qualitative military advantage in the region, rejecting engagement with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and keeping all options, including additional sanctions and the use of military force, on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.
"Senator Hagel gave me his clear and direct commitment to advancing issues of equality and fairness in our armed forces -- from fully implementing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to providing full benefits to families of LGBT servicemembers, ensuring that women servicemembers have access to the full range of reproductive care, cracking down on sexual abuse in the military, stopping hazing, and implementing the opening of full combat roles to female servicemembers.
"As a member of the Committee, I will reserve final judgment until the hearing process is complete and Senator Hagel has provided his full testimony. However, based on our two personal conversations, I believe that Senator Hagel will faithfully and aggressively carry out the policies of the Obama administration, wants to be held accountable in working with me and my colleagues in implementing those policies in the future, and is well qualified to become the next Secretary of Defense."