U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine questioned Secretary of Defense nominee Sen. Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearing on issues affecting Northern Virginia's economy, the nation’s security and how service members can be successful after leaving active duty, according to a news release from Kaine's office.
Former Virginia Sen. John Warner, a long-time member of the Armed Services Committee, John Warner, introduced Hagel at the hearing. During his opening comments, Kaine said Warner, a former Secretary of the Navy and U.S. Senator from Virginia who served as the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was the best ally Hagel could have.
“Today’s hearing with Senator Hagel was productive and thorough and the endorsement of former Senator John Warner cannot be overstated,” said Kaine. “Senator Hagel gave detailed and direct answers to my questions about the future of our military and I am pleased he agrees we must increase certainty for our men and women in uniform by going back to an orderly budgeting process."
During the hearing, Kaine’s first as a member of the committee, he discussed ways to avert the looming sequester cuts that would make across the board reductions and adversely harm defense contractors, civilian workers and active duty servicemen and women in the Commonwealth. Kaine expressed his concern with the military relying on a temporary continuing resolution [CR] for the next year without proceeding with the usual budgeting process.
“I'm new here, but to me it seems like funding the military through CR is poor business, poor budgeting, and poor governance. I am worried about its effect upon the morale of all of our men and women in service,” said Kaine before asking Hagel whether he agreed Congress should put forth a full fiscal year budget.
“To my way of thinking, that is the way you ought to make revenue and spending decisions in accord with a budget, rather than through gimmicks like sequester,” Kaine continued.
Kaine also asked Hagel for ideas on how to credential skills for members of the active duty military that increase employability when they leave the service. Kaine has long advocated a system of credentialing skills accrued during military service so they can be applied in the private sector, easing a servicemember’s transition to civilian life.
In response to Kaine’s question about Hagel’s commitment to credentialing, Hagel replied, “nothing is more important than our men and women and their families. And that doesn't mean just throughout their time in our service to our country, but afterward.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on the confirmation of Hagel in the coming weeks.