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Levin: Senate panel to vote Tuesday on Hagel

Feb. 11, 2013 - 01:27PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 - 01:27PM  |  
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The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote Tuesday afternoon on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to become U.S. defense secretary, Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced Monday.

A Senate Democratic aide tells Defense News it is possible the full chamber could vote on the nomination before the end of this week. The Senate is slated to be out of town next week.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., confirmed that possibility, saying he hopes the chamber will be able to complete floor debate and then vote on Hagel's nomination "Wednesday and/or Thursday."

"Never in the history of the country [has there] ever been a filibuster on a defense secretary," Reid said. "And I'm confident there won't be on this one."

The announcement came one day after two SASC members threatened to potentially kill the nomination.

On separate Sunday television interviews, SASC Ranking Member James Inhofe, R-Okla., said he intends to threaten a filibuster if the nomination reaches the Senate floor.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said unless the White House reveals more information about how President Obama personally responded to the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, he would block the nomination, saying, "No confirmation without information."

Levin lightly panned Senate Republicans last Thursday for seeking more personal financial data from Hagel than other nominees are asked to hand over. Asked if Republican senators' requests and filibuster threats would be enough to kill the nomination, Levin said, "We can't not vote."

The 2:30 p.m. Tuesday vote is expected to yield a party-line outcome. Democrats have 14 SASC members to 12 Republican members.

Prior to the vote, there will be an unspecified amount of time for discussion, Levin's office said in a brief statement.

Citing GOP sources, one Sunday media report said Republican panel members are mulling whether to walk out of the committee meeting. That would prevent the panel from establishing the quorum needed to vote, further delaying Hagel's nomination.

In a statement expressing his belief that the time has come for the committee to vote, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said this about that idea: "I will not participate in any walkout of tomorrow's committee vote an action that would be disrespectful to Chairman Levin and at odds with the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee."

A Senate GOP aide says Inhofe will not walk out. But, he added: "I cannot speak for the decision of other members of the committee. I believe having the open debate before the vote may minimize the chances of a walk out."

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