After a meeting on Tuesday, the #3 Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, has endorsed former Nebraska Senator, Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense. The meeting was key, as Hagel's comments and history left doubts on his views regarding Israel's security and Iran's nuclear designs. Hagel had, as a Senator, dismissed concerns over a "Jewish lobby" which was pushing for increased support to Israel.
"I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him," Schumer said in a statement. Schumer is Jewish and has a large Jewish constituency which is very pro-Israel.
"I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran," Schumer said.
Part of the issue is, the policy of the current Administration focuses on containing Iran rather than any preemptive measures. Through negotiation, sanctions, and threats, the Obama Administration attempts to manipulate the Tehran into giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and ending support for terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. In support of these policies and in keeping with statements Hagel has made, historically, Schumer had originally expressed concern over Israel's success in defending themselves, and whether the United States might plan for preemptive strikes, under Hagel's watch.
"Senator Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do 'whatever it takes' to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force," Schumer said. "He said his 'top priority' as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran. He added that he has already received a briefing...on this topic."
So, an important first step in the confirmation process seems to have been made for Chuck Hagel. There will be a few, additionally difficult, steps ahead.