WASHINGTON (CBS) - President Obama says he needs Congress to act quickly to confirm his picks for the Pentagon and the CIA in order to keep American safe. But Congress isn't ready to give its rubber stamp of approval. President Obama announced his picks for the next heads of the Pentagon and the CIA. Now they need congressional approval before they can get to work.
President Obama says, "We need to get moving quickly on this."
Senator Chuck Hagel is the nominee for Secretary of Defense. A former enlisted man and Vietnam vet. The president says Hagel can relate personally to America's troops. He says, "To this day, Chuck bears the scars, and the shrapnel, from the battles he fought in our name."
But winning confirmation won't be easy. Some of Hagel's former Senate colleagues call him hostile toward Israel, and soft on Iran. Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska says, "I'm waiting for an explanation. I want him to make a case as to why he should be Secretary of Defense."
But confirmation hearings here on Capitol Hill are expected to be easier for another nominee: John Brennan, the president's choice to head the CIA. Still, after 25 years in the spy agency, some object to the Brennan pick.
A small group protested the Brennan pick Monday saying he's linked to controversial interrogation techniques including water boarding during the George W. Bush administration. The White House disputes that. White House pres secretary Jay Carney says, "Mr. Brennan wrote a letter in which he made clear that he opposed so-called enhanced interrogation techniques."
Brennan is also the architect of the drone program, credited with killing Al Qaida operatives. But it's unpopular overseas, especially in Pakistan where drones have targeted terrorists living in the country.
Most senators have held off on declaring whether they will support the nominees, there are a few that have already spoken up, including Texas senator John Cornyn. The Senate minority whip issued a statement saying he will not vote for Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.