The confirmation vote for Republican former senator of Nebraska Chuck Hagel (shown) to replace outgoing Leon Panetta as secretary of defense was postponed by another week after Hagel failed to meet the expectations of his former Republican colleagues during last week's Senate confirmation hearings. Even more troubling than Sen. Hagel's performance in the hearing is his record on defense issues, as well as his questionable ties to certain organizations.
The secretary of defense is second (only to the president) in the military chain of command and directly oversees the Department of Defense and the nation’s armed forces. This makes the selection of this Cabinet-level position of the utmost importance concerning national security, thus requiring a scrupulous vetting of the nominee.
As a member of the Senate, Hagel voted in the following manner on defense issues:
• NAY on separate barracks for males and females in basic training;
• YES to kill an amendment that called for sanctions on commercial fronts of the Communist Chinese military;
• YES in support of China’s membership in the World Trade Organization;
• YES on the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to reduce U.S. nuclear stockpiles in parity with Russia.
On May 14, 1998, Sen. Hagel voted to table (kill) the Hutchinson Amendment (S.Amdt.2387) to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1999. This amendment would have required the president of the United States to “compile a list of persons who are Communist Chinese military companies and who are operating directly or indirectly in the United States or any of its territories and possessions,” and to “publish the list of such persons in the Federal Register.”
The amendment would have also given the president the authority to invoke sanctions against front corporations of China’s People’s Liberation Army, which is the military arm of Communist Party of China. Although the amendment and bill passed the Senate, it was subsequently referred to the House Committee on National Security, where no action was taken on it, and thus it failed to pass Congress.
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