New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democratic leader, may hold the cards as to whether Chuck Hagel’s bid for secretary of Defense succeeds.
At this point Schumer, the most powerful Jewish Democrat in Congress, hasn’t taken a public stand on whether he’ll support the former Nebraska senator. But privately, he has let it be known that he’s worried about the lukewarm support Hagel has shown for Israel in the past, Politico reports
Several sources told the news service that Schumer told other senators it would be “very hard” for him to support Hagel because of his stance on Israel over the years.
Opposition from Schumer could doom Hagel, because it could sway the votes of other pro-Israel Democrats and give Republicans who oppose him bipartisan political cover. But support from Schumer could put Hagel over the top.
A one-on-one meeting between the two and Hagel’s testimony in the Senate during confirmation hearings could determine Schumer’s decision. With the retirement of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman earlier this month, Schumer now stands as perhaps the most pro-Israel Jewish member of the Senate Democratic caucus, according to Politico.
On the Israeli side, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Jewish leaders in New York Thursday that Hagel, is a “decent and fair interlocutor who believes in the natural partnership between Israel and the United States,” Haaretz reports.
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