WASHINGTON — Frustrated by Republican foot-dragging, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Monday for a committee vote today on the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.
The committee action has been postponed for the past week over evolving demands from Republicans for new documentation on Hagel's past statements, personal financial records and even a sexual harassment allegation involving two former staff members, but not Hagel himself. As action has drawn closer, Republican opponents to a former Senate Republican colleague have threatened filibusters and even a walkout from the committee.
A Republican official said that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had given his word to Levin that he would not participate in a threatened Republican walkout.
Levin's decision to call for a public discussion and vote indicated that the chairman still believes that Hagel has enough support to be confirmed.