WASHINGTON – Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has delayed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary as 25 Republican senators demand more information from the former Nebraska senator.
The senators want Hagel to disclose who funded his private speeches, as well as any foreign funders of organizations to which he has profitable ties, according to a letter given to the Post by GOP sources.
Foreign Policy reported Tuesday evening that Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would not agree to a Senate Armed Services Committee vote without more information from the former Republican senator from Nebraska.
Hagel has said most of his speeches were extemporaneous and has promised to divest some of his financial holdings and resign from any organization that poses a conflict of interest.
Sessions is also waiting for results of an investigation into whether Hagel knew that in 2007 a female staff member in the senator’s office reported sexual harassment by a senior male staff member.
Hagel’s chief of staff at the time, Lou Ann Linehan, told Foreign Policy she did not bring the incident up with the senator because it did not require a termination. She said she handled the incident and thought it was resolved; she also described it as a dispute, not sexual harassment. “The term sexual harassment shocks me a little bit. I wouldn’t have put up with anything that was actually sexual harassment,” she said.
In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked President Obama to “reconsider” Hagel’s nomination. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that Hagel might face a 60-vote threshold for confirmation in the full Senate. But a successful filibuster is unlikely; there are 55 Democrats in the Senate, and several Republicans support Hagel or oppose the unprecedented use of a filibuster to block his appointment.