By Donna Cassata Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee pushed ahead Monday with plans for a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary despite Republican demands for more financial information from President Barack Obama’s choice.
Sen. Carl Levin said in a statement that the committee will vote on Tuesday afternoon on Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska and decorated Vietnam combat veteran. Obama nominated Hagel on Jan. 7 to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Democrats hold a 14-12 edge on the Armed Services panel and it’s likely that Hagel will win approval on a party-line vote.
Levin, D-Mich., had postponed an expected vote last Thursday after Republicans demanded additional information from the nominee about his paid speeches and foreign donors to organizations that he had been affiliated with since leaving the Senate in 2009.
In a letter on Friday, Levin had rejected those demands as beyond the scope for nominees, Republican and Democrat, as he detailed the financial information that had been required for nearly 30 years of nominees.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the panel, on Sunday threatened to hold up the nomination of Hagel and CIA Director-designate John Brennan until he gets more information from the Obama administration about the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in that attack.
The vote on Hagel would come just hours before Obama delivers his State of the Union address at the Capitol.