Senate vote on Hagel likely to go ahead
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Republican opponents are sending signals that Chuck Hagel's bid to become defense secretary will probably come to an up-or-down vote soon in the Senate.
That's unless more information damaging to the nominee - and the Obama administration - surfaces in the coming week.
Critics maintain the decorated Vietnam combat veteran and former senator is unqualified to lead the U.S. military. A top White House official expressed "grave concern" over the delayed confirmation vote, adding that there was nothing to worry about in any disclosures that may yet come.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a key Republican on defense matters, said Sunday that he doesn't believe Hagel, a one-time colleague and friend, is qualified. "But I don't believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think it's (been) a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered."
McCain and other Republicans angered President Barack Obama by delaying a vote on Hagel last week and preventing him from rounding out his second-term national security team, which includes Hagel and John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser who is awaiting confirmation to become CIA director. Former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry assumed his post as secretary of state at the beginning of February.