At a Glance
- Career History: Atlantic Council Chairman (since Feb. 2009); U.S. Senator (1997 to 2008); President of McCarthy and Co. (1992 to 1996); President and CEO of the Private Sector Council in Washington ( 1990 to 1992); President and CEO of United Services Organizations (1987 to 1990)
- Birthday: Oct. 4, 1946
- Hometown: North Platte, Neb.
- Alma Mater: University of Nebraska, B.A. (History), 1971
- Spouse: Lilibet
- Religion: Episcopalian
- DC Office: 248 Russell Senate Office Building, 202-224-4224
- Web site
Path to Power
Hagel was born in North Platte, Neb., in 1946, to Charles and Betty Hagel and was the eldest of four sons. Hagel and his brothers - Tom, Mike and Jimmy - lived nomadic childhoods, as the family drifted from one Nebraska town to another while Charlie searched for work at lumberyards.
Charlie had served as a tail gunner on bombing raids in the South Pacific during World War II, and the experience affected him deeply. Alcohol became a constant battle in his life. As the eldest son, Chuck would often step in and protect his mother when Charlie was violently drunk.
During his 1996 Senate run, Hagel campaigned as a small-government, anti-abortion rights social conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. "We are taxed too high and regulated too heavily," he said at the time.
Despite his general adherence to conservative principles, Hagel has often opposed his party's legislative agenda. He voted against the No Child Left Behind bill in 2001 and the Medicare overhaul and prescription drug benefit, which he called "a sham and a rip-off for nearly everybody." More recently, and in a marked contrast with the rest of his Senate career, Hagel voted with his party only 78.5 percent of the time in the 110th Congress.
Hagel grew close to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.) during their work together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is also good friends with two other colleagues on the committee, fellow Vietnam veteran Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and former chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).
Hagel traveled with Barack Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan in July 2007, and the two seem to have developed a rapport.