Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today voted against the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as secretary of defense.
"At this critical time in our nation's history, we need a secretary of defense who commands bipartisan support and is willing to take every action necessary to defend the United States if the need arises," said Coats in a speech on the Senate floor. "Based on the years of public statements and actions taken during his career, I cannot say Chuck Hagel meets the criteria needed for this position that is so critical -- the position of Secretary of Defense."
In his speech, Coats raised concerns about Hagel's views on the Iranian nuclear threat. As the former co-chair of a project on Iran at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Coats pressed for a comprehensive effort to raise the stakes on the Iranian regime to end its weapons program.
"As a senator, Chuck Hagel repeatedly voted against sanctions legislation, even opposing those aimed at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who were killing and maiming our troops in Iraq," added Coats. "During his recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he proclaimed the legitimacy of the current regime in Tehran, which has violently repressed its own citizens, rigged recent elections, provided material support for terrorism, and denied the Holocaust.
Coats also highlighted Hagel's contradicting statements during his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January.
"Regarding U.S. policy in Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Senator Hagel displayed an embarrassing lack of knowledge and confusion regarding our official policy toward Iran," said Coats. "One of the most critical topics facing our nation is Iran's threat to world stability by the possession of nuclear capability and weapons. Senator Hagel had to be handed a note by an aide, indicating he was not aware his answer was contrary to even the administration's position. And his attempt to correct his answer had to be further clarified by the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.