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After testy hearing, Udall will support Hagel nomination

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DENVER — After a combative eight-hout hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC on Thursday, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall stated explicitly that he plans to support former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Hagel, a Republican who drew fire from Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham for his past positions on the Iraq war and the containment of Iran, is also opposed by some on the left who take issue with his past statements about gays and lesbians.

“Sen. Hagel showed me today and throughout his confirmation process that he understands the issues facing the U.S. military, and that he agrees we need to pursue a smart, but tough national security policy,” Udall said in a statement relased Thursday afternoon.

“I believe he will stand with Israel and our allies, take every necessary step to prevent a nuclear Iran, treat all service members equally regardless of their sexual orientation and strengthen our cyber security. Without question, Chuck Hagel will bring his remarkable experience as both a combat veteran and an outspoken Senate leader to the Pentagon.

“I intend to support Sen. Hagel’s confirmation as our country’s next Secretary of Defense.”

Udall asked Hagel three questions during the hearing, focusing on Isreal and the threat of a nuclear Iran, issue of cyber security and whether Hagel will ensure that gays are treated equally in the military.

“Will you ensure that the Dept. of Defense, in accommodating religious beliefs or matters of conscience, does not tolerate discrimination or harm to others?” Udall asked.

“Absolutely. I will faithfully, diligently enforce our laws,” Hagel responded. “All men and women deserve the same rights and I can assure you that that will be a high priority, that I will enforce that and assure that in every way throughout the entire line, the chain of command and accountability.”