By Justin Sink - 01/15/13 03:26 PM EST
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Unity at last MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday he would support President Obama's nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE (R-Neb.) to head the Defense Department, providing a key swing vote that boosts his chances at confirmation.
Schumer met with Hagel for 90 minutes at the White House on Monday, and said in a statement that the nominee "could not have been more forthcoming and sincere."
"Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation," Schumer said. "I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him."
Schumer said Tuesday that he had secured commitments that as secretary of Defense, Hagel would support an aggressive stance toward the Iranian regime and continue to provide support for the Israeli military.
"Senator Hagel rejected a strategy of containment and expressed the need to keep all options on the table in confronting that country. But he didn’t stop there,” Schumer said. “In our conversation, 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. He said his 'top priority' as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran.”
Schumer said Hagel had also apologized for his "Jewish lobby" remark and promised to continue equipping the Israeli military.
"Senator Hagel pledged to work towards the on-time delivery of the F-35 joint strike fighters to Israel, continue the cooperation between Israel and the U.S. on Iron Dome, and recommend to the President that we refuse to join in any NATO exercises if Turkey should continue to insist on excluding Israel from them," Schumer said. "Senator Hagel believes Israel must maintain its Qualitative Military Edge."
Schumer added that he had also received assurances that Hagel — who opposed an ambassador nominee during the Clinton administration after referring to him as "aggressively gay" — would support LGBT rights in the military.
"He said he is committed to implementing the Shaheen amendment to improve the reproductive health of military women," Schumer said. "He also supports the full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."