Chuck Hagel’s grasp of Iran is doubted

No Democrat has come out in opposition to Chuck Hagel.
No Democrat has come out in opposition to Chuck Hagel.

WASHINGTON — Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that Chuck Hagel ‘‘seems clueless’’ on US policy toward Iran and urged the Obama administration to reconsider its defense secretary nominee.

In a statement, the South Carolina Republican lawmaker stopped short of saying he would filibuster the choice if the president pushes forward as expected. No Democrat has come out in opposition to Hagel and he picked up more support on Tuesday as Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, announced that she would vote for the former two-term Republican senator and Vietnam combat veteran.

Two Republican senators back Hagel and others, including Senator John McCain, wouldn’t support a filibuster.


Hagel stumbled last week at his confirmation hearing on whether the US policy toward Iran is containment, then corrected himself.

Cantor says Republican Party needs to adapt for families

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WASHINGTON — A top ­Republican lawmaker is urging his party to place more emphasis on education, health care, and other kitchen-table issues as the GOP tries to recover from its November setbacks.

House majority leader Eric Cantor said Republicans must show they have better solutions for families who struggle to pay bills and worry about their children’s future.

Cantor proposed few new initiatives in a Washington speech Tuesday, but endorsed a pathway to US citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

Sandy Hook educators to receive posthumous medals

HARTFORD — Presidential medals will be awarded posthumously to the six people who died protecting children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, officials said Tuesday.


The principal, school psychologist, and four teachers who were killed in the Dec. 14 massacre will be among the recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, according to a White House official.

The staff members slain inside the Newtown, Conn., school have been credited with protecting the students when a gunman attacked. Some rushed toward the gunman while others used their bodies to shielded children from gunfire.

“These extraordinary educators, who sacrificed their lives to protect students in their care, gave a profound new dimension to the meaning of public service,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.

Report says medical leave act doesn’t disrupt business

WASHINGTON — Two decades after Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Obama administration said Tuesday that a new report shows the law is helping millions of workers cope with family hardships with little disruption to employers.

Just 16 percent of eligible workers took time off last year to recover from an illness, care for a new child, or tend to a sick relative, according to the Labor Department survey.


At the same time, 85 percent of work sites reported that compliance was “somewhat easy,” “very easy,” or had “no noticeable effect.”

Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris said the report puts to rest fears raised two decades ago that the law would drive companies out of business and lead to rampant fraud.

Since the law took effect, workers have taken leave more than 100 million times. About 57 percent went on leave for an illness, 22 percent for pregnancy or child care, and 19 percent cared for a relative.