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Public Statements

Executive Session - Nomination of Charles Timothy Hagel to be Secretary of Defense

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, it has been suggested that the Senate should not move forward with Senator Hagel's nomination, alleging he has not complied with requests that he produce speeches. In fact, the standard committee questionnaire requires nominees to provide a copy of ``any formal speeches you have delivered during the last 5 years of which you have copies.'' Senator Hagel complied with this requirement before his hearing 2 weeks ago.

Before the hearing, a number of requests were received from Republican Members that Senator Hagel seek and obtain and provide to the committee some transcripts of additional speeches. In fact, hundreds of pages of transcripts were, in fact, supplied to the committee before the hearing, in addition to those he had submitted in response to the committee questionnaire.

Since then, we have received two additional requests for specific speeches, and in each case we forwarded to Senator Hagel the requests. He sought and provided transcripts of speeches for which he had no prepared remarks and of which he had no copies. So he has responded to those requests, and where he was able to obtain a transcript or a video of the speech from the organization he addressed, he provided a copy. Where no such materials existed, he told us that was the case.

Senator Hagel was informed that a video of his remarks existed in one of those cases but that the organization had been unable to find it. The organization has now located the video, and it will be provided to the majority and minority staffs of the committee today.

In the last few days there has been some finding of transcripts or videos that have surfaced on the Internet--a handful of 2008 and 2009 speeches that Senator Hagel did not recollect. So I ask unanimous consent that a list of links to the Web transcripts or Web videos and a list of Senator Hagel's potentially relevant Senate speeches that are a part of the Congressional Record from 2008 be printed in the Record immediately following my remarks.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, Senator Hagel stated in his financial disclosure that he received $200,000 from Corsair Capital, which is a private equity firm, and he was a member of its advisory board. It has been alleged that Senator Hagel failed to provide complete financial disclosure, despite the admitted lack of evidence of any kind, and a highly negative innuendo was dropped by one of our colleagues which said that, and I quote, ``it is, at a minimum, relevant to know if that $200,000''--referring to those fees from Corsair Capital--``that [Senator Hagel] deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, [or] ..... from North Korea. .....'' Without any evidence of any kind, that kind of innuendo has been dropped here. It is inappropriate, unfair, untrue.

Senator Hagel has provided the same financial disclosure and met the same conflict of interest standards that the committee requires of all previous nominees. As I explained in a February 8, 2013, letter to my ranking member, Senator Inhofe:

Our committee has a well-defined set of financial disclosure and ethics requirements which apply to all nominees for civilian positions in the Department of Defense. ..... We have applied these disclosure requirements and followed this process for all nominees of both parties throughout the 16 years that I have served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member of the [Armed Services] committee. I understand that the same financial disclosure requirements and processes were followed for at least the previous 10 years, during which Senator Sam Nunn served as Chairman or Ranking Minority Member.

And I added:

During this period, the committee has confirmed eight Secretaries of Defense (Secretaries Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry, Cohen, Rumsfeld, Gates, and Panetta), as well as hundreds of nominees for other senior civilian positions in the Department. ..... The committee cannot have two different sets of financial disclosure standards for nominees--one for Senator Hagel and one for other nominees.

As required by the Senate Armed Services Committee and by the Ethics in Government Act, Senator Hagel has disclosed all compensation over $5,000 that he has received in the last 2 years. As required by the Armed Services Committee, he has received letters from the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and the Acting Department of Defense General Counsel certifying that he has met all applicable financial disclosure and conflict of interest requirements.

As required by the Armed Services Committee, he has answered a series of questions about possible foreign affiliations. Among other questions, the committee asks whether during the last 10 years the nominee or his spouse has ``received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government.'' And Senator Hagel's answer was ``No.''

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, will the distinguished chairman of the Armed Services Committee yield for a question?

Mr. LEVIN. I will be happy to.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I have listened to the recitation. Basically what the Senator is saying is that all the rules that were in place for nominees to the Department of Defense under Republican Presidents are being followed for Senator Hagel. But there are some who want to go beyond those and create new rules beyond those for Vice President Cheney when he was Secretary or Donald Rumsfeld or Gates or any of the other Secretaries of Defense. The Senator is saying some now want to do something different for this nominee of President Obama's than the practices they found totally acceptable for the nominees of President Bush?

Mr. LEVIN. The Senator is correct. A number of our colleagues have made that demand, and it is simply not something on which we are going to set a precedent. It is not the way to proceed in this body.

Mr. LEAHY. I stand with the Senator from Michigan. In the Judiciary Committee, we follow the same procedure for our judicial nominees regardless of the party of the President who nominates them. If we begin switching the rules depending upon who is President--well, if we think the American public holds Congress in low esteem right now, it is going to get even worse. So I compliment the Senator for sticking to the rules.

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I thank my good friend from Vermont.

Just to complete my statement on the financial part, this is relative to the fees he received when he was on the advisory board of Corsair Capital.

This is a company he does not control. He is not in a position to require that it disclose anything. The other

members of the advisory board--all of whom are identified, by the way, on the company's Web site--include the chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, who is a laureate of the 2002 Israel Prize in Economics and a recipient of the Scopus Award from Hebrew University. Other members of the advisory board: the former director of investments for Yale University and the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, which is responsible for regulating the insurance industry in the United Kingdom. So the innuendo that Corsair Capital is somehow a puppet entity that is funneling tainted money to members of its advisory board is unfair. It is totally inappropriate.

Senator Inhofe said yesterday that he is not filibustering this nomination. He is just insisting on a 60-vote requirement for Senate approval. And he said it is not unusual to insist on 60 votes for the approval of a nominee and this was done during the Bush administration for the nomination of Stephen Johnson to be EPA Administrator and the nomination of Dirk Kempthorne to be Secretary of the Interior.

Well, the Senate rules do not provide for 60-vote approval of nominations or any other matter. These rules establish a 60-vote requirement to invoke cloture and end debate. If 60 votes are required here, it is because there is filibuster. There is no 60-vote requirement for the approval of a nomination, and the two examples cited by Senator Inhofe actually prove this point. On the nomination of Stephen Johnson, cloture was invoked by a 61-to-37 vote on April 29, 2005. On the nomination of Dirk Kempthorne, cloture was invoked by an 85-to-8 vote on May 26, 2006. But--and this is the point--after the debate was ended by those votes on cloture, the nominations were confirmed by regular votes of this body. And those regular votes are either a voice vote or a majority vote on a rollcall vote.

So that history is, again, an example of how the Senate operates. Sixty votes is not required to approve a bill or approve a nomination. If a matter is being filibustered, 60 votes is required to end the debate, and then, if the debate is ended, there is a vote on a nomination or a bill.

No nomination for the position of Secretary of Defense has ever before been filibustered. This filibuster breaks new ground. The filibuster of a nomination for Secretary of Defense is the first one under any circumstances, and it is unwise. The Department is facing a budget crisis that was described as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So a filibuster at this time of a budget crisis is exceptionally ill-advised. Leaving the Department of Defense leaderless at a time when we are in an Afghan conflict, when North Korea has just exploded a nuclear device is exceptionally ill-advised. And perhaps most important, having a Department of Defense that does not have a new Secretary confirmed is unfair to the men and women in uniform. It sends them exactly the wrong message, as it does to our friends and our adversaries around the world.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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