Inhofe in a statement expressed concerns in particular about Hagel’s support for further spending reductions at the Pentagon.
But Inhofe, while noting that he and Hagel remain friends, said he also could not get past Hagel’s unwillingness in 2000 to sign letter “affirming U.S. solidarity with Israel.
“In 2001 he was one of just two senators who voted against extending the sanctions against Iran,” Inhofe continued. “A year later, he urged the Bush administration to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. Given the current tension in the Middle East that is largely being instigated by the Iranian regime, I am concerned with Sen. Hagel’s views.”
Inhofe expressed further concern that Hagel is a proponent of nuclear disarmament.
“Although we are opposed on issues, we are still friends,” Inhofe said. “This is one of those rare times when policy differences don’t stand in the way of personal relationships.”
But Hagel won Boxer’s support after she received a letter from the nominee Monday.
“I asked him about a number of issues — including America’s special relationship with Israel, the threats posed by Iran to the world and the treatment of women and gay and lesbian members of our military — and his answers were reassuring and show a sensitivity and understanding of these issues,” she said in a written statement Monday night.
In the letter, Hagel repeated his apology for the use of the phrase “Jewish lobby,” which he said was “a poor choice of words” that he only used once.
“I was a strong supporter of Defense appropriations, which provided enduring support for Israel’s security,” he wrote. “Most Americans, myself included, are overwhelmingly supportive of a strong U.S.-Israel strategic and security relationship.”
Boxer told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that she had not heard that Schumer had thrown his support behind the Hagel nomination, but upon hearing it she said, “Good.”
When asked what it meant that she and Schumer came out in support of Hagel, Boxer said, “I think Chuck and I reached our decisions very independently of one another, and for people who respect our views on a host of issues, it should make them feel good. From what I am seeing, there seems to be a Republican push here to really go after Sen. Hagel. I think it is good we came out today quite independently.”