Hagel hearing set

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel has a date with the Senate Armed Services Committee – Jan. 31.

The panel announced Wednesday that it will kick off its consideration of Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary at 9:30 a.m. that day.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., will among those reviewing the nomination as a member of the committee.

Fischer and Hagel are scheduled to meet Jan. 23 to discuss his nomination and Fischer told reporters on Wednesday that she’s looking forward to it.

She said Hagel’s name never came up during her recent trip to Israel and Afghanistan, whether in conversations with soldiers or with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

She said she’ll be looking to discuss Hagel’s core beliefs and will be particularly interested in his take on ongoing cuts to the defense budget.

“That will play, I believe, a major role in our conversations that we’re going to be having,” Fischer said during her first weekly conference call with reporters. “And also, I’d like to hear what he believes about our military readiness and if we are going to be able to continue to protect our country and the citizens of our country.”

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