The vote to decide whether Former Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska will be the next Secretary of Defense was abruptly postponed late Wednesday, February 6. That vote had been scheduled to take place on Thursday, during a different hearing concerning Libya.
The vote was put off, according to most sources, because Hagel has not provided adequate documentation concerning compensation for speeches and other activities over the past five years.
More than a dozen Republicans sent a letter to Hagel, a copy of which the Associated Press obtained, pressing him to provide the requested information.
“The committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for secretary of defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources,” Senate Republicans wrote. “Until the committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as secretary of defense.”
Hagel stated in a letter to Senate Republicans that he is not in possession of the information requested.
“My role with respect to the entities you identify is as a current and former board or advisory board member. I was not involved in the day-to-day management of any of these firms, and have not been involved with some for the firms for years now,” Hagel wrote. “Thus, as a matter of fact, I do not believe I have any of the information requested. More importantly, the information you seek is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose.”
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is already on record as supporting Hagel and had hoped to have the vote take place as scheduled. Instead, Levin’s office issued a terse statement late Wednesday that there would be no vote on Thursday.
“The committee’s review of the nomination is not yet complete. I intend to schedule a vote on the nomination as soon as possible,” Levin said.
The Free Beacon reported that sources close to SASC members believe that Hagel’s refusal to provide the requested information may encourage GOP lawmakers to hold up the nomination.
“Senators are really taken aback that Hagel would refuse to provide financial information about foreign governments and foreign agents that may have been indirectly paying his salary for the last few years,” said one Republican Senate aide who is close to the process. “We are talking about the most sensitive cabinet post—control over our nuclear secrets, our intelligence agencies, our covert activities—and we don’t have a right to know if he’s got IOUs for certain countries or groups?”
In a late-breaking story from Foreign Policy, another irregularity has arisen with the nomination, one about which some senators are requesting additional information. This matter has to do with a claim of sexual harassment by one staff member about the actions of a more senior staffer. There is no question of the senator’s own impropriety, rather it goes to staff management and behavior, according to the report.