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GOP Holds on Hagel Likely After Committee Vote

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Hagel’s nomination has sharply divided lawmakers.

“We should move forward with this nomination and bring it to the floor and vote up or down,” McCain said. “Someday we will have a Republican president. Someday we may even have a majority in the United States Senate.” Hagel being confirmed would be “the will of the Senate” if it happens, McCain said.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier Monday that he hoped the Senate would be able to vote Wednesday or Thursday on Hagel.

“There’s never in the history of the country ever been a filibuster on a Defense secretary, and I’m confident there won’t be on this one,” he said Monday on the Senate floor.

Panel Republicans have increasingly grown restive on the typically less partisan Armed Services panel. Initially, discord appeared over the handling by the administration of the Benghazi attack in which four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed.

Later, Hagel’s nomination developed into a new proxy between Republicans and the administration. Republicans have expressed doubts about Hagel’s views on Israel, Iran, nuclear weapons and the war in Iraq, which Hagel at first supported before turning against his party and opposing the war and the surge in 2007.

No Democrat has come out against Hagel, while only two GOP senators have suggested that they would support him: Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

Hagel’s toughest critics include Inhofe, Graham and freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, among others.

Some 26 senators signed a letter last week demanding enormous levels of further financial disclosures from Hagel, suggesting that a vote be put off until the information was provided. In a response, Levin wrote a letter to the GOP lawmakers saying no more information was forthcoming because Hagel had met all normal thresholds for disclosures.

McCain supported Levin’s position.

“I have examined the information and responses to members’ questions that Senator Hagel has provided to the committee, and I believe that he has fulfilled the rigorous requirements that the committee demands of every presidential nominee to be secretary of Defense,” McCain said. “As a result, I believe it is appropriate for the Armed Services Committee to vote on Senator Hagel’s nomination and determine whether to move this nomination to the Senate floor, where members can debate and express their own judgments on Senator Hagel.”

Certainly, senators also will have another chance to vent their concerns during the executive meeting.

Niels Lesniewski and Sarah Chacko contributed to this report.

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