After Tennessee misplaced two influential GOP powerhouses in Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — whose back-to-back retirements robbed Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell of a consigliere and the Overseas Relations Committee of its prime Republican — Hagerty is zeroing in on overseas affairs to make his mark. He’s mixing it up by backing a few of Biden’s extra polarizing nominees whereas constantly voting alongside different conservatives on most Senate enterprise.
“A United States senator has a time period that’s longer than the president of the USA — just isn’t term-limited. A United States senator has the flexibility to assume on a long-term foundation, on a strategic foundation. And that’s precisely what I got here right here to do,” Hagerty stated throughout a half-hour interview in his Capitol Hill workplace that was as soon as occupied by then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson.
It’s one thing of an announcement on the state of the trendy GOP that Hagerty stands out inside it, even whereas taking Biden to activity over the messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, his failure to impose sanctions on a Russian pipeline and his posture towards China. However he’s nonetheless an outlier in a celebration typically inclined to yield the bluntest political devices in opposition to Biden: Hagerty has known as Biden’s commerce chief a “vibrant spot” and praised the brand new U.S.-U.Okay.-Australia submarine deal, which he stated strengthened the Quadrilateral Safety Dialogue within the Indo-Pacific. That’s on prime of his rescuing of the nomination of Rahm Emanuel, the longtime Democratic lawmaker and mayor who attracted opposition on the left.
“I’ve been prepared to applaud them and be supportive the place I believe they’re shifting in the precise course,” Hagerty stated. “However, on the identical time, I’m going to be very clear to name them out after they transfer in the wrong way.”
It’s uncommon for a first-term senator to focus so intentionally on overseas affairs — an enviornment on Capitol Hill lengthy dominated by outdated bulls who are inclined to outlast presidents and cling to the well-known phrase “politics stops on the water’s edge,” the concept home political considerations shouldn’t cloud overseas dealings. Overseas affairs can be a coverage space the place the loudest partisans are much less efficient and the highlight shines the least, which implies formidable freshman lawmakers usually shun it.
Whereas Emanuel was dealing with backlash from liberals over his document as mayor of Chicago, Hagerty vigorously defended him and went so far as to introduce the longtime Democrat at his affirmation listening to. The 62-year-old conservative stated he and Emanuel “noticed eye-to-eye on the menace that China poses” and “the vital position that Japan can play there.”
“I might be stunned if there have been a single challenge on the home coverage entrance that Rahm Emanuel and I might agree upon,” Hagerty quipped. “[But] I assumed it was necessary that the individuals of Japan — and albeit that China, North Korea and anyone else that may be watching as properly … they wanted to see that there’s robust bipartisan help for the U.S. ambassador to Japan.”
Hagerty’s opposition to main Biden overseas coverage initiatives stands notably to the precise of Corker, who usually acted as a GOP bellwether on key foreign-affairs questions all through his two phrases within the higher chamber. For instance, Corker led the cost to present the Senate a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear cope with Iran; Hagerty’s nationwide safety adviser, Robert Zarate, is a longtime Senate overseas coverage hand who helped marshal GOP opposition to that deal.
Certainly, in contrast to Corker, who spent the tail finish of his profession talking out in opposition to the previous president, Hagerty is as pro-Trump as they arrive. When he got here into workplace in January, Hagerty employed a number of former Trump White Home aides to employees his D.C. workplace. And all through his brief Senate tenure, Hagerty has hyped Trump overseas coverage — on every little thing from his “most stress” marketing campaign in opposition to Iran to his efforts to crack down on China.
“President Trump has an extended record of overseas coverage achievements that not solely he needs to be pleased with, however superior America’s pursuits in a optimistic method,” Hagerty stated, bouncing from topic to topic with ease. “You discuss concerning the predatory posture of China — President Trump known as that out.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who serves with Hagerty on the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, enthusiastically backed Hagerty’s nomination for ambassador to Japan in 2017, and now co-leads the panel’s State Division subcommittee alongside Hagerty. Cardin stated Hagerty is on his approach to reclaiming the state’s conventional firepower in overseas coverage, however hailed Corker as a extra unbiased voice on the world stage.
“Every individual’s distinctive — Bob Corker is a pricey good friend, he actually created an unimaginable information base and popularity in overseas coverage,” Cardin stated in a quick interview. “Sen. Hagerty’s simply beginning out, however he’s very critical about overseas coverage.”
Hagerty was the Trump marketing campaign’s 2016 chair in Tennessee, and later served because the director of presidential appointments on the Trump transition crew. Earlier than that, he led Tennessee’s financial improvement division and served as finance chief for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential marketing campaign. He beforehand labored in non-public fairness at Boston Consulting Group, a tenure that included a three-year stint in Tokyo, and speaks conversational Japanese.
“[Hagerty] has the precise temperament — not simply to signify us on the diplomatic stage, but additionally to work with colleagues, to speak by points wherein there exists a principled disagreement,” stated Indiana Sen. Todd Younger, who chaired the Senate GOP marketing campaign arm the yr Hagerty was elected and has disagreed with him on war-powers points.
However Hagerty’s efforts have prolonged properly past the partitions of the Overseas Relations Committee’s assembly area on Capitol Hill.
After Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, Hagerty flew to London and Brussels to fulfill together with his parliamentary counterparts and reinforce allied cooperation on the safety scenario. His message?
“I’m gonna be right here longer than Joe Biden, and we have to work collectively as a result of the menace has escalated now,” Hagerty stated, recounting his conversations.
He has additionally sought accountability by different means. After seeing different nations sack leaders liable for the Afghanistan debacle, Hagerty requested Secretary of State Antony Blinken — whose nomination he supported — at a public listening to if he had provided his resignation to the president.
His conservative allies have adopted different techniques to pressure motion, comparable to holding up State Division and Pentagon nominees till their calls for are met. Hagerty doesn’t function that method. As a substitute, he’s rising as a foreign-policy foil to Biden.
After Israel and Hamas militants have been engaged in a violent capturing conflict earlier this yr, Hagerty flew to Israel as a present of help for the U.S. ally, believing that Biden and different Democrats weren’t sufficiently backing the Israeli authorities’s response to Hamas rockets.
It was an uncommon step by a member of Congress, one influenced by his diplomatic expertise.
“The messages which were popping out of the Biden administration have required me, once in a while, to upend what’s taking place right here, get on a airplane and go do what I’ve realized to do as a businessperson and as a diplomat,” Hagerty stated. “And that’s to step up, face the issue head-on, discover pragmatic options and allow them to know that you simply’re right here and prepared to work.”