Now that Chuck Hagel will be the next secretary of defense, his first job should be to avert the budget cuts that will affect the nation’s military should sequestration take effect on Friday, GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe said on Tuesday.
“I continue to have serious concerns about the ability of Sen. Hagel to lead the Department of Defense during this consequential time for our nation’s security,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a statement.
Hagel, who represented Nebraska as a Republican in the Senate for 12 years, was confirmed by a 58-to-41 vote. Inhofe, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted against Hagel’s nomination.
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“His long record of controversial positions on issues ranging from nuclear disarmament, defense spending, Iran, and his misguided comments on Israel demonstrate, in my view, a profound and troubling lack of judgment on many of the critical issues he will now be confronted with as Secretary of Defense,” Inhofe said.
“His first order of business must be averting the devastating cuts to our military associated with sequestration,” Inhofe added. “These cuts will result in a hollow force that, for the first time in recent history, will be unable to respond to contingencies around the world.
“It is my hope that Senator Hagel will not want to be known as the Secretary of Defense responsible for overseeing the gutting of our military and instead will step up and exhibit the leadership necessary to avert this unacceptable outcome.”
Inhofe pledged to work with Secretary-elect Hagel “to ensure that we do not go down this path of disarming America, that we continue to support our allies around the world, and that our military remains the most capable and respected fighting force in the world.”
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