Hagel lands another GOP supporter

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who last week voted against bringing former senator Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense to a vote, now says he is set to support Hagel.

Chuck Hagel's nomination faces a vote this afternoon. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) Chuck Hagel (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

"Sen. Shelby intends to support the Hagel nomination, barring any unforeseen surprises between now and the vote," Shelby's spokesman, Jonathan Graffeo, told The Fix.

Graffeo added: "He voted against cloture last week as a courtesy to his colleagues who needed more time to examine Hagel's record. Having provided sufficient time, and taking all factors into consideration, he intends to support the nomination."

Shelby told a local reporter, “He’s probably as good as we’re going to get."

Shelby becomes the third Republican to say he will vote for Hagel, with the first two being Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Two others, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), were in favor of giving Hagel a vote but have not said they will support him.

Hagel's amount of GOP support, at this point, is more symbolic than anything. Republicans have already said they will give him an up-or-down vote on Tuesday, at which point he doesn't need any GOP support to be confirmed.

Of course, getting a few more Republicans to vote for him would be a nice win for the White House and Hagel himself.

Some Republican opponents aren't giving up hope, though, with 15 GOP senators writing a letter to President Obama on Thursday urging him to withdraw Hagel's nomination, citing his lack of broad, bipartisan support.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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Aaron Blake · February 21, 2013