Hagel vote delayed after Republicans demand more information

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. (AP)
Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel (AP)

This post has been updated.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has delayed a vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary as 26 Republican senators demand more information from the former Nebraska senator.

The senators want Hagel to disclose who funded his private speeches, as well as any foreign funders of organizations to which he has profitable ties, according to a letter given to the Post by GOP sources.

Foreign Policy reported Tuesday evening that Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) would not agree to a Senate Armed Services Committee vote without more information from the former Nebraska senator.

Hagel has said most of his speeches were extemporaneous and has promised to divest some of his financial holdings and resign from any organization that poses a conflict of interest.

Sessions is also waiting for the results of an investigation into whether Hagel knew that in 2007, a female staff member in the senator's office reported sexual harassment by a senior male staff member.

Hagel's chief of staff from the time of the incident, Lou Ann Linehan, told Foreign Policy that she did not bring the incident up with the senator because it did not require a termination. She said she handled the incident and thought it was resolved; she also described it as a dispute, not sexual harassment. "The term sexual harassment shocks me a little bit. I wouldn't have put up with anything that was actually sexual harassment," she said.

In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked President Obama to "reconsider" Hagel's nomination. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that Hagel might face a 60-vote threshold for confirmation in the whole Senate. But a successful filibuster is unlikely; there are 55 Democrats in the upper chamber, and several Republicans either support Hagel or oppose the unprecedented use of a filibuster to block his appointment.

Levin had previously said a vote in the committee, where Democrats have a 14-to-12 edge, could take place as early as Thursday; there will be no vote tomorrow.

"I intend to schedule a vote on the nomination as soon as possible," the senator said in a statement.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · February 6, 2013