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Hoosier senators follow party lines

Donnelly ‘yes,’ Coats votes ‘no’ on confirmation

U.S. senators from Indiana split their votes Tuesday on whether to confirm Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly joined the majority of senators in confirming President Obama’s nomination of Hagel, while Republican Sen. Dan Coats voted against the former Nebraska senator’s appointment.

Coats said in a floor speech that Hagel had, during confirmation hearings, “displayed an embarrassing lack of knowledge and confusion” regarding U.S. policy on Iran and that nation’s nuclear-power intentions.

The threat of U.S. military force against Iran “will have virtually zero credibility if Sen. Hagel becomes secretary of defense,” Coats said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN.

Donnelly said in a statement that Hagel “is qualified and capable to take on the challenges before him,” including the return of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, their transition to civilian life and maintaining alliances with Israel and other nations. Donnelly added that Hagel’s combat service in the Vietnam War gives him, “distinctive experience as it relates to the responsibilities of this job.”

But Coats said Hagel’s lack of bipartisan support – only four Republicans voted to confirm him – was “unprecedented” for a defense secretary nominee.

Coats opposed ending debate that was stalling a confirmation vote, while Donnelly supported proceeding to the vote.