Former Defense Secretary and GOP Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel testified yesterday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee at the hearing: The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security. “Climate change is a real and present threat to our national security, which most likely will get worse,” Hagel said, testifying alongside his former Senate colleague and Secretary of State John Kerry. “There needs to be a dedicated effort to address this threat.” Both former senators are co-founder of the American Security Project, an organization focused on highlighting the link between national security and climate change.

“Planning for climate change is not some frivolous waste of time or waste of money,” Hagel said, referring to preparedness steps taken by the U.S. military. “It is essential to our troops and to their well-being and the national security of this country.” In written testimony, he highlighted how 2018’s “extreme weather has seriously affected our military readiness. In September, Hurricane Florence decimated Camp Lejeune and caused damage to Fort Bragg and military installations across North Carolina.”

When pressed about the Green New Deal, Hagel responded, “Take that up with the congresswoman, not me,” pointing to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I’m not here to defend that bill or testify about it.” He also took a tough stance on the U.S. position via the rest of the world and how the current state of affairs and partisanship is delaying progress. “Yes it’s a burden for America to lead, but do we really want someone else to lead the world?” Hagel said. “Do you want your kids to grow up in a world that America doesn’t lead? I don’t think so.”