Murkowski, Begich split on Hagel nomination

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) arrives at Camp Ramadi for a short visit with U.S. servicemen, July 22. Sen. Chuck Hagel accompanied Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) on the trip. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones)

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) arrives at Camp Ramadi for a short visit with U.S. servicemen, July 22. Sen. Chuck Hagel accompanied Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) on the trip. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones)

Alaska’s U.S. senators split on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as the country’s new defense secretary.

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich joined the majority in confirming Hagel Tuesday. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted no.

Murkowski, in a statement, said while she respects Hagel’s public service, “his military career and Vietnam experience do not automatically translate to leading the Pentagon.”

She says during Hagel’s confirmation hearing, he “hedged and equivocated” when asked about Iran. She says his responses didn’t satisfy her concerns and those of many Alaskans.

Begich said he believes Hagel understands the importance of the military’s role in Alaska and Alaska’s “strategic importance” to U.S. national security. He says he looks forward to teaching Hagel more about Alaska and “holding him accountable now that he is in this important position.”

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