WASHINGTON -- Chuck Hagel has enough votes to win Senate confirmation next week as the nation's next defense secretary following a senior Republican's decision to back President Barack Obama's choice.
Obama's choice has faced strong Republican opposition, and last week the GOP succeeded in an unprecedented filibuster of a nominee for defense secretary. In fresh evidence of the resistance, 15 Republican senators sent a letter to Obama on Thursday calling on him to withdraw the nomination.
Hagel is expected to get all 55 Democratic votes and the support of three Republicans -- Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Shelby. Two other Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- voted last week to allow the nomination to move ahead and are expected to do the same next week, giving Hagel the 60 votes out of 100 needed to end a filibuster.
A vote on confirmation, with only a majority necessary, could occur as early as Wednesday. -- AP