WASHINGTON — Chuck Hagel has picked up another GOP vote for his confirmation as defense secretary — from Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
The Decatur (Ala.) Daily quoted Shelby saying that he expects to back Hagel despite having some concerns about the nomination.
“He’s probably as good as we’re going to get,” Shelby said.
Shelby joins only two other Senate Republicans who support Hagel’s nomination — Sens. Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
Another two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supported at least giving Hagel an up-or-down vote when the Senate voted last week.
Still, Hagel’s nomination fell one vote short of the 60-vote threshold of clearing procedural hurdles.
Hagel also has the support of former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., who released a statement touting Hagel’s public service.
“Hagel’s wisdom and courage make him uniquely qualified to be Secretary of Defense and lead the men and women of our armed forces,” Dole said in the statement. “Chuck Hagel will be an exceptional leader at an important time.”
Shelby’s support could put Hagel over the top when the Senate votes again on Tuesday, after returning from a weeklong recess.
But that didn’t stop 15 GOP senators who oppose Hagel’s nomination from writing a letter to the president this week asking that he rescind the nomination. The group cited concerns that ranged from Hagel’s previous stances in dealing with Iran to his performance at his confirmation hearing.
The White House continues to stand by Hagel.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the letter during his Thursday afternoon press briefing and used the opportunity to joke about a made-up group some conservative outlets had tied to Hagel.
“Absolutely not,” Carney said when asked if the nomination would be withdrawn. “Any suggestion . . . to the contrary might have been found in the minutes of the meetings of the Friends of Hamas.”
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