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U.S. Senate committee delays vote on Hagel confirmation

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 6 Feb 2013 22:25 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The Senate Armed Services committee will not vote this week on Chuck Hagel's confirmation as President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense, the panel's chairman said on Wednesday.

"The committee's vote on Senator Hagel's nomination has not been scheduled," Senator Carl Levin said in a statement. "I had hoped to hold a vote on the nomination this week, but the committee's review of the nomination is not yet complete."

He said he intended to schedule a vote as soon as possible.

Levin, a Democrat, said after Hagel's contentious confirmation hearing last week that he hoped the panel would vote during a meeting on Thursday.

But Republicans said they still wanted more information on issues including the former Republican senator's business dealings and past speeches, and would try to prevent a quick confirmation if they did not get it.

"I look for people to slow this train down, and let's get everything we need. And that's what I want to do," Senator James Inhofe, the committee's senior Republican, told reporters after a news conference on the defense budget.

Levin aides declined to elaborate on why the vote would not take place on Thursday as had been expected.

Hagel has provided some information on his personal finances, but said he could not provide all of what has been requested because it was confidential information from private organizations that he was not authorized to disclose.

Some Republicans have demanded the texts of speeches by Hagel, which Hagel said were not available because he spoke extemporaneously. Others have said they were awaiting results of a 2007 sexual harassment claim against a former member of Hagel's staff by another member of his staff, Foreign Policy reported.

There was no indication Hagel was involved in the incident.

Democrats have said the Republicans' objections were a last-ditch effort to convince Obama to withdraw Hagel's nomination, which is not likely.

Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska, faced a barrage of often heated questions about his record from fellow Republicans last week when he appeared before the Armed Services Committee, which must approve his nomination before it faces a vote in the full Senate. (Editing by Jackie Frank)

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