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Senate panel will vote today on Hagel

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with a vote on 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, Sen. 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 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.

“I have examined the information and responses to members' questions that Sen. 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,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement Monday backing Levin's plans for a vote.

McCain's expression of confidence in Hagel's answers was a crucial counterpoint to GOP criticism of the nominee, who still faces Republican threats to block or delay his selection.

McCain, the panel's former top Republican, has said he's leaning against supporting his former GOP Senate colleague and friend, but he made clear he would not participate in any walkout by committee Republicans over a Hagel vote.

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