US rules out withdrawing nomination of Hagel as Defence Secretary
Washington: The White House has ruled out withdrawing the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the Defence Secretary nominee, which is currently stuck in the Senate confirmation process due to the stiff opposition from the Republican lawmakers.
Instead, the White House accused the Senate Republican leadership on putting the national security at risk by putting on hold key nominations including that of Hagel and John Brennan for the post of CIA Director.
The White House statement in this regard came after 15 Republican Senators asked the US President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination of Hagel.
"Absolutely not," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
"For the first time in American history, Senate Republicans filibustered a nominee for Secretary of Defence, who is a member of their own party, a decorated combat veteran, and the right leader for our troops.”
"A clear majority in the US Senate supports Hagel's confirmation, so today's action that you refer to, run against both the majority will of the Senate and against our national interest," he said when asked about the letter received from the Republican Senators.
Terming this development as of "no consequence", Carney said that it is meaningless political posturing by the Republican Senators.
"There are 66,000 men and women in uniform in Afghanistan and we need our new Secretary of Defence on the job to be part of the significant decisions that have to be made as we bring that war to a responsible end," he said.
The US official informed that the country will discuss with its allies about the transition in Afghanistan at the NATO defence ministerial meeting in Brussels this week.
"And our next Secretary of Defence should be there. He is not, because of this, you know, political gamesmanship that we've seen. So, for the sake of national security, we urge the Senate to confirm Senator Hagel. We also urge the Senate to confirm John Brennan and to get them to work, because the nation needs them to be at work," Carney said.
However, he said that more and more Republicans are now supporting the confirmation of Hagel.
"Even Senator (Orrin) Hatch said this morning, 'I don't think we should filibuster Cabinet appointments' and we certainly agree with that sentiment. It's been expressed by many others," Carney added.