Senate Democrats will press ahead with Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next defense secretary — and they have the support of Sen. John McCain, a senior Republican who says the Armed Services Committee has properly vetted the nomination.
Despite protestations from several Republicans that they don’t yet have enough information to make a decision, Mr. McCain said in a statement Monday that Mr. Hagel “has fulfilled the rigorous requirements” of the vetting process.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin said Monday morning that he will schedule a committee vote for Tuesday afternoon — the precursor to holding a vote in the whole Senate.
Some Republicans have said they don’t want to move ahead with the nomination without knowing more information, but Mr. McCain short-circuited those objections when he said he will not be part of a walk-out of the committee vote.
Mr. Hagel, himself a former Republican senator, has drawn stern opposition from Senate Republicans who argue that he took dangerous stances in the past on Iran and Israel and that he was all too ready to change those stances when he sought the Pentagon’s top civilian post.
Mr. Hagel, at his confirmation hearing, apologized for using phrases such as the “Jewish lobby” to describe pro-Israel groups and said his opposition to sanctions on Iran was because he thought the executive branch should have control of foreign affairs, not Congress.
Now some Republican senators say Mr. Hagel has not disclosed enough information on his clients in the four years since he left the Senate, and they have said they will place a “hold” on the nomination, which in practice means they will filibuster him. Democrats would have to muster 60 votes to overcome that filibuster.