McCain: Hagel Unqualified, Likely To Get Confirmed

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 17 2013 2:11 PM

Republicans Soften Stance on Hagel, Say Confirmation is Imminent

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Top Republicans say Chuck Hagel will likely be confirmed when the Senate returns from break next week

Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain says that while he doesn’t believe former Sen. Chuck Hagel is the right man to lead the Pentagon, Republican senators will stop using tactics to delay the vote. "No, I don't believe he's qualified, but I don't believe we should hold up his nomination any further," McCain said on NBC. "I think it's [been] a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered." (Watch video after the jump.)

Senators voted to hold up Hagel’s confirmation vote last week, but now McCain says he fully expects the vote to proceed soon after they return from break on Feb. 25. "We will have a vote when we get back, and I am confident that Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as the secretary of defense," McCain said. Democrats have scheduled a vote for Feb. 26.

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In another sign of how Republicans are relenting on their opposition to Hagel, Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News he is willing to accept the former senator’s denials about alleged anti-Israel remarks. “If it’s true, that’s the end of it,” Graham said. Still, Graham defended the delay in confirmation saying Hagel is “one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a very long time.” But when it comes down to it, “this is the president's decision,” he added.

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Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.