Though likely to be confirmed, McCain questions Hagel's qualifications

Chuck Hagel is expected to be confirmed as secretary of defense by the Democratic-controled Senate. On Sunday, Republican Senator John McCain said he did not believe Hagel is qualified for the job, despite their personal friendship. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Senate Armed Services Committee members, (from l.), Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gather for a Capitol Hill hearing on looming defense budget cuts to be followed by a confirmation hearing on former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to Secretary of Defense Feb. 12. The fierce Republican opposition to the Hagel nomination has long been seen as a proxy for the never-ending scuffles between the Democratic president and congressional Republicans.

Republican Senator John McCain on Sunday said his former colleague Chuck Hagel was not qualified to be US defense secretary but the Senate would likely vote on his nomination rather than hold it up with procedural hurdles.

Before going on a weeklong recess, Republican lawmakers succeeded in delaying a Senate vote on Hagel's nomination earlier this month. Hagel is expected to win confirmation if a vote is held because Democrats control 55 votes in the 100-seat Senate.

"I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense," McCain of Arizona said on CNN's "State of the Union" show.

"I believe that when the questions are answered, and I believe they will be by this coming week that the president deserves an up or down vote" on Hagel, said McCain, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Hagel's nomination was likely to go for a vote in the Senate "barring some additional revelation," he said.

Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, angered Republicans when as senator he broke from his party by opposing former President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war.

Republicans are demanding more information from the administration related to the attacks on U.S. facilities in BenghaziLibya, last year.

The Senate confirmation vote on John Brennan for CIA director also faces delay over the request by Republicans for more information related to Benghazi.

"I don't want to put a hold on anybody, but the American people deserve answers about Benghazi. There are so many questions that are still out there, including what was the president doing the night Benghazi happened?" McCain said.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.