Hagel confirmation vote postponed

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense on Capitol Hill January 31, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., postponed the vote to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as Defense secretary today after Republicans demanded more information from the nominee on speeches he had made and who had paid him, including any payments from foreign entities or persons.

CBS News has obtained a letter signed by more than two dozen Republican senators urging Hagel to disclose information on his speeches, the organizations and groups he addressed and their contributions and donors. Earlier reports had suggested the vote could happen as soon as Thursday.

"This Committee and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources," the letter reads, alleging that Hagel "flatly" refused to provide the committee with such information, despite receiving a letter requesting it, signed by six members, two days before his confirmation hearing.

"Until the Committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense," the letter continues.

Additional questions concern requests to investigate an allegation by a former member of Hagel's staff that she was harassed by a fellow staffer.

"There's information that I know people are seeking right now, and I've talked to Chairman Levin, and we haven't decided yet exactly what we're going to be doing at that hearing," said Ranking member James Inhofe, R-Okla.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., meanwhile, said members don't have all the information they've requested, including "who did he speak in front of, what did he say, and what was he paid.

"...I don't think we should be voting," Graham said.

A Democratic aide said the Senate Armed Services Committee staff is working "very hard to address those issues today," and Levin said he will schedule a vote as soon as possible.

But today's bump is just the latest in what has been a rocky road for Hagel, particularly when it's come to getting Republicans on board with his nomination.

Hagel's record on the Middle East and Israel, in particular, has attracted strong opposition, mostly from the GOP and the pro-Israel lobby. The Vietnam War veteran branded himself a maverick conservative during his two Senate terms, loudly criticizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling for U.S. negotiations with the Palestinian organization Hamas and voting against some Iran sanctions.

Democrats, too, have added gripes about President Obama's pick. On top of being a Republican, Hagel was targeted for making anti-gay comments about an ambassadorial nominee in 1998. He also voted multiple times to limit abortion access for American servicewomen abroad.

But in his confirmation hearing before Levin and the committee last week, Hagel launched a strong defense of both his values and his record, arguing "no one individual vote, no one individual quote, no one individual statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record."

He must gain the support of 26 members of the committee in order to face a full Senate confirmation vote. Thirteen Republican senators have said they will oppose the Hagel nomination, five of who are committee members. No Democrat has said he or she will vote against Hagel.

Committee members who have said they will vote "no" on the nomination include Sens. Inhofe, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., David Vitter, R-La., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Other Republicans who said they will oppose Hagel: John Cornyn, R-Texas, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

Two Republicans - Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb. - have committed to supporting the Hagel nomination.