Skip to content

Chuck Hagel Out at DOD; Jack Reed, Michele Flournoy, Ashton Carter on Short List (Updated) (Video)

Hagel is on his way out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Hagel is on his way out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:23 p.m. | President Barack Obama is getting a new Defense secretary.  

Obama announced Monday in the State Dining Room that Chuck Hagel will be leaving his post once a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Hagel tendered his resignation earlier Monday after a series of crises erupted on his watch, including the rise of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.  

Obama said Hagel came to him and portrayed the exit as Hagel’s decision — one they had discussed for weeks. The president praised his nearly two years of service on the job as “exemplary.”  


The New York Times, which first reported Hagel was headed for the exits, reported three people on the shortlist, including Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., for whom confirmation would presumably be a foregone conclusion; Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of Defense, and Ashton Carter, a former deputy secretary of Defense.  

Reed’s departure from the Senate would create a vacancy. Roll Call recently reported on several possible successors  in Rhode Island.  

However, a spokesman for Reed told Ted Nesi, a reporter for WPRI-TV in Rhode Island, that he doesn’t want to be considered for the job.


Unruh later sent this statement to CQ Roll Call:

“Senator Reed loves his job and wants to continue serving the people of Rhode Island in the United States Senate.  He has made it very clear that he does not wish to be considered for Secretary of Defense or any other cabinet position. He just asked the people of Rhode Island to hire him for another six year term and plans on honoring that commitment.”
Flournoy would be the first woman to hold the post.  


Reaction from Capitol Hill was predictable: calls from Republicans for the president to change his war strategy and policies, and praise from both parties for Hagel’s decades of service.  

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Hagel “was frustrated with aspects of the Administration’s national security policy and decision-making process. His predecessors have spoken about the excessive micro-management they faced from the White House and how that made it more difficult to do their jobs successfully. Chuck’s situation was no different. …Ultimately, the President needs to realize that the real source of his current failures on national security more often lie with his Administration’s misguided policies and the role played by his White House in devising and implementing them.”  

“This personnel change must be part of a larger re-thinking of our strategy to confront the threats we face abroad, especially the threat posed by the rise of ISIL,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement. “We cannot defeat this enemy without a broad, coordinated, well-thought-out effort that has the strong support of the American people.  Thus far, this administration has fallen well short.”  

This is the second straight president to drop his defense secretary shortly after a disastrous six-year midterm. George W. Bush got rid of Donald Rumsfeld after the 2006 midterms and shifted his war strategy in Iraq.  

Rumsfeld’s replacement, Robert Gates, was swiftly confirmed in the lame-duck session — a point the White House previously made when the administration was considering an effort to confirm Obama’s attorney general pick, Loretta Lynch, before the start of the 114th Congress.  

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Recent Stories

Total eclipse of the Hart (and Russell buildings) — Congressional Hits and Misses

House plans to send Mayorkas impeachment articles to Senate on Tuesday

Harris sticks with Agriculture spending, Amodei likely to head DHS panel

Editor’s Note: What passes for normal in Congress

House approves surveillance authority reauthorization bill

White House rattles its saber with warnings to Iran, China about attacking US allies