WASHINGTON (January 7, 2013)—U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday Chuck Hagel is "well-qualified" to be the next Defense secretary.
Levin, who will oversee Hagel's confirmation hearing, said in a statement Monday that the former Republican senator has a wealth of experience in national security and is a strong advocate for the men and women of the military.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the panel, mentioned concerns about Hagel's policy positions and vowed to seek clarification during the hearing, and Texas’ new U.S. senator, Ted Cruz, said Sunday he would have a problem voting to confirm the nomination.
In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Hagel is the wrong man for the job.
The Virginia Republican said Hagel has espoused incendiary views about Israel that are out of the mainstream.
Only the Senate votes on the nomination.
The president, in announcing the nomination Monday, said Hagel is "the leader that our troops deserve."
Facing a potentially tough fight to get Hagel confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Obama praised the former Nebraska senator's independence and bipartisan approach, and said that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, understands war is not an abstraction.
Hagel, a moderate Republican, has the support of some of his former Senate colleagues but is drawing opposition from others who accuse him of being soft on Iran and insufficiently supportive of Israel.
Mr. Obama also announced Monday he has tapped White House homeland security adviser John Brennan as his nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Obama appeared with Brennan Monday in the East Room of the White House to name him as his pick to succeed former CIA chief David Petraeus, who resigned in November after admitting to an affair with his biographer.
Brennan is a 25-year veteran of the CIA and among Mr. Obama's closest advisers.
Mr. Obama called him a friend.
The president praised Brennan as one of the most skilled and respected intelligence professionals.
Brennan's post also requires Senate confirmation.