WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) became a leading critic against Chuck Hagel, voting against his confirmation as Defense Secretary on Tuesday. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) supported Hagel.
In a statement, Kirk said, "Sen. Hagel's past views and statements place him far outside the bipartisan mainstream on key issues like Iran sanctions, European designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group and the U.S.-Israel relationship.
"During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Hagel instinctively called the Iranian government both elected and legitimate. He initially offered strong support for containment of Iran, rather than President Obama's stated policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon. He could not clearly explain his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran - opposition as recent as 2008. And at no time did he state his position on whether the European Union should formally designate Iran's terror proxy, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization - a critical step to cut off the flow of funds to a group responsible for the murders of some 280 American citizens.
"While I appreciate and respect Sen. Hagel's record of service to our country, especially as a decorated combat veteran, I cannot support his nomination."