Hagel confirmation votes to be held this week
Updated 1:45 p.m. ET
The fight over former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense will come to a vote this week as the Senate Armed Service Committee will vote on the nomination Tuesday and the full Senate could consider the Hagel nomination as early as Thursday.
Senate and White House sources say committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have grown impatient with Republican requests for more information from Hagel or the White House and will seek a quick end to the confirmation battle.
Levin and Reid continue to rely on assurances that GOP leaders will not stage a filibuster against Hagel. Most Republicans are expected to vote against Hagel's confirmation, but Democrats stand solidly with President Obama's nominee, meaning Hagel has enough votes to prevail on a simple majority vote.
Levin and Reid also want to pressure Republicans who have threatened to place a "hold" on the Hagel nomination. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened to do so on CBS' "Face the Nation"; the Armed Services Committee's top Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said he's considering a filibuster on Fox News yesterday. Democrats and the White House don't want strategies like this to take on a life of their own or gain momentum.
While Graham, Inhofe or others can single-handedly hold up Hagel's nomination, the belief among Senate Democrats and the White House is that once confirmation votes are scheduled, pressure will build on Graham to relent.
Graham said he wants more information on Obama's conduct the night of the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
The committee's former top Republican, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement that "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."
Without indicating whether or not he supports Graham's call for a hold on the nomination - McCain has said he would vote to end a filibuster - he did say he shares Graham's "deep concerns about unanswered questions regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi."
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