WASHINGTON -- Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said she had a “frank discussion” Wednesday with Chuck Hagel but reserved judgment on his nomination as defense secretary until after his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing.
“We have to have that public hearing,” she said during her weekly conference call with reporters. “Americans have a right to see a public hearing on any nominee and to see what the questioning is and his responses.”
Fischer said she plans to follow up with Hagel on some issues before the hearing and added that defense nominees have a higher bar to clear than many others.
“They are, I believe, held to a higher level,” Fischer said.
|Photos: Chuck Hagel through the years|
|See more photos of Hagel, from Nebraska youngster to national statesman.|
Hagel served two terms as a Republican senator from Nebraska. He endorsed Fischer's opponent in the November race, Democrat and fellow Vietnam veteran Bob Kerrey.
Fischer also discussed a range of other issues during her call, including her support for preserving Medicare benefits for current beneficiaries, the need to speed up approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and gun control.
President Barack Obama and others have called for re-instituting a ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition clips.
“It's very sad anytime that we have a horrific event as we saw in Connecticut, the immediate talk goes to gun control,” she said.
She said she's encouraged that there has been some discussion about the need to address mental health issues and the “culture” of violence.
“Of course there are a number of representatives, a number of senators who would like to see stricter gun control,” Fischer said. “I would not support that.”
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