Hagel confirmation vote coming Tuesday
Senate Armed Services Committee to vote on defense secretary nominee
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a vote on the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary at 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, the office of Chairman Carl Levin announced Monday.
While Hagel went through his confirmation hearings on Jan. 31, Levin put off the vote after more than two dozen Republicans pressed Hagel to provide additional financial information about corporations and other organizations he's been associated with since leaving Congress.
However, last Thursday Levin said he would no longer postpone the vote and would try to schedule it as soon as possible, despite some GOP opposition.
"We can't not vote because there is dissatisfaction on the part of people because that could be endless," said Levin, D-Michigan.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, made headlines Sunday when he vowed to block Hagel's nomination in the Senate unless the Obama administration provides more information about the Benghazi, Libya attack.
Hagel, however, is all but certain to be confirmed. CNN learned last week there were at least five Republican senators who would oppose a filibuster, essentially ensuring the embattled nominee will be approved in the coming days.
If a filibuster were launched, it would take 60 votes to cut it off. There are 53 Democrats in the Senate plus two independents who regularly vote with them. So the additional five Republicans would provide the votes needed to break a filibuster.
"There's a whole lot of hype and drama, but if he has 60 votes, he has 60 votes. And he probably does," a senior GOP Senate aide told CNN on Monday.
As for the process, all nominations are on the executive calendar, which means that "you can't keep it from coming up on the floor," the aide added. It requires a simple majority vote, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has those votes.
In addition, the source points out, a "hold"--such as the threat made my Graham--means that the nomination can't be passed by unanimous consent or voice vote, the aide said. Then, once it's on the floor, Reid would file for cloture. If he files on Wednesday, for instance, the vote could be Friday.
Since a handful of Republicans have said they will not support a filibuster, it's clear Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not engaging as if one were to occur.
Still Hagel will likely emerge from the process as a "diminished" figure to a certain degree, the GOP aide argued, a challenge that may create conflict inside the Pentagon.