Senate panel expects to vote on Chuck Hagel today

Chuck Hagel is a former two-term Nebraska Republican senator and twice-wounded combat veteran in Vietnam.
Chuck Hagel is a former two-term Nebraska Republican senator and twice-wounded combat veteran in Vietnam.

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with a vote Tuesday on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, rejecting Republican demands for more financial information from Hagel in a politically charged fight over President Obama’s second-term national security team.

In a brief statement, Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the panel would meet Tuesday afternoon with the ‘‘intention to vote on the nomination after the members have an opportunity for discussion.’’

Levin, a Michigan Democrat, had hoped to hold a committee vote last Thursday, but postponed it amid complaints from Republicans that Hagel hadn’t sufficiently answered questions about his personal finances.


Not all Republicans shared that view, however.

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‘‘I have examined the information and responses to members’ questions that Senator Hagel has provided to the committee, and I believe that he has fulfilled the rigorous requirements that the committee demands of every presidential nominee to be secretary of defense,’’ Senator John McCain of Arizona said in a statement Monday backing Levin’s plans for a vote.

McCain has said he’s leaning against supporting his former colleague and friend, but he made clear he would not participate in any walkout by committee Republicans over a vote.

Obama tapped Hagel, a former two-term Nebraska Republican senator and twice-wounded combat veteran in Vietnam, to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after serving as CIA director and Pentagon chief in the president’s first term.

Hagel, 66, has faced strong opposition from Republicans over his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, nuclear weapons, and Iraq, in which he initially backed the war but later opposed it.


Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Monday that the full Senate could vote either Wednesday or Thursday on the nomination, dismissing talk of a filibuster of a Cabinet nominee as unprecedented.

‘‘There’s never in the history of the country ever been a filibuster on a defense secretary, and I’m confident there won’t be on this one,’’ the Nevada Democrat said at the start of the Senate session.

Democrats hold a 14-to-12 edge on the Armed Services panel and it’s likely that Hagel will win approval on a party-line vote.

Bid launched to overturn court’s Citizens United ruling

WASHINGTON — Representative Rick Nolan of Minnesota introduced a constitutional amendment Monday designed to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which lifted many restrictions on corporate spending in political elections.

Nolan announced the initiative with members of Move to Amend, a grass-roots coalition that has been seeking support on the local level in communities for the amendment. They say political campaign spending should not be a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.


The 2010 Citizens United ruling paved the way for a flood of campaign cash from corporations, unions and wealthy interests.

Any effort to amend the US Constitution faces daunting hurdles.

Supporters of the Citizens United decision say it upholds the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.