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Carney: Hagel's Nomination Will "Absolutely Not" Be Withdrawn

QUESTION: And what’s the White House’s response to a letter from 15 Republican senators calling for the President to withdraw the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be his Defense Secretary?

MR. CARNEY: There is so much I have to say about that. First, I would point you to Senator Shelby's comments this morning that he will support Senator Hagel's confirmation. He joins other Republicans, like Senator Johanns and Cochran. And I would also point you to Republican senators from the weekend shows who said they will support an up or down vote next week when the Senate returns, on Senator Hagel. Even Senator 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.

It is unfortunate, however, that some Senate Republicans put political posturing ahead of our nation's security. For the first time in American history, Senate Republicans filibustered a nominee for Secretary of Defense -- a member of their own party, a decorated combat veteran, and the right leader for our troops. A clear majority in the U.S. Senate supports Senator Hagel's confirmation. So today's actions that you refer to run against both the majority will of the Senate and against our national interest.

And this waste of time is not just meaningless political posturing, because we firmly believe that Senator Hagel will be confirmed. But the waste of time is of consequence. There are 66,000 men and women in uniform in Afghanistan, and we need our new Secretary of Defense on the job to be part of the significant decisions that have to be made as we bring that war to a responsible end.

This week in Brussels, the United States will meet with our allies to talk about the transition in Afghanistan at the NATO defense ministerial, and our next Secretary of Defense should be there. He is not because of this political gamesmanship that we've seen.

So for the sake of national security, we urge the Senate to confirm Senator Hagel. We urge the Senate to confirm John Brennan, and to get them to work because the nation needs them to be at work.

QUESTION: And just to be clear, he won't be withdrawn?

MR. CARNEY: Absolutely not. Any suggestion to the otherwise -- to the contrary might have been found in the minutes of the meetings of the Friends of Hamas.

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