WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement after he voted to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as U.S. Secretary of Defense:
“Later this week, the ‘sequester’ is set to take effect and enact indiscriminate cuts to our federal budget, including the defense budget. It’s bad policy – policy we created in Washington by failing to do the right thing by enacting a comprehensive, balanced plan to reduce our deficit. But today, at least, we have installed a new Secretary of Defense to help navigate the details of the defense budget to maintain troop readiness and preparation during this fiscal quagmire. Chuck Hagel is up to this task. From his time as an enlisted man in the Vietnam War to his pragmatic days in the Senate, Chuck has shown himself to be a courageous leader ready and willing to put his country above all else. He possesses the rare mix of management and policy experience that make him uniquely qualified to handle the challenges of running the Department of Defense at this critical point in our nation’s history.
“Additionally, I have long held that agencies can’t manage what they can’t measure. The Department of Defense is no exception. Improving the Department’s financial management systems, including putting into place effective financial controls that track its spending and transactions, is critical to the proper management of our colossal defense budget, including reducing instances of waste and fraud. During his tenure, Secretary Panetta made important progress to get this challenging problem under control, while also protecting the critical programs that our service members and their families depend on. Secretary Hagel has told me that he will follow his predecessor’s lead and continue to improve the Department’s efficiency in managing taxpayer funds. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I look forward to working with him on these efforts to generate needed savings from the defense budget during this challenging fiscal time, and I congratulate him and his family on his confirmation as Secretary of Defense.”