More than a month and a half after being nominated by President Obama to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former Sen. Chuck Hagel will get a confirmation vote in the Senate this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said today on CNN's "State of the Union."
"I don't believe Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense," McCain said. "But I do believe that elections have consequences, unfortunately, and the president of the United States was re-elected."
The Nebraska Republican chaired McCain's presidential campaign in 2000 before turning around in 2008 and endorsing his opponent, then-candidate Obama. Concerns about Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran, as defense secretary, have come mostly from the right and the pro-Israel lobby, taking issue with his stance against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his call for direct negotiations with Hamas and votes against some Iran sanctions.
GOP senators have been filibustering Hagel's confirmation vote as leverage to get more details on what happened within the administration the night of Sept. 11, 2012, when extremists with linkages to al Qaeda attacked a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Though McCain did not sign a letter to Mr. Obama last week demanding that he drop Hagel's nomination, he also did not vote to break the filibuster.
The Senate will vote again Tuesday on the filibuster, and McCain predicted an up-or-down vote, which will likely send Hagel through to the Cabinet post, albeit with only a few GOP votes.
"I believe that when the questions are answered, and I believe they will be this week, that the president deserves an up-or-down vote," McCain said. "I think it will happen, barring some additional revelation concerning his comments on Israel and all those other really unfortunate things [Hagel has] said in the past."
Hagel narrowly cleared his first hurdle to the post earlier this month, passing the Senate Armed Services Committee vote along party lines, 14 to 11.