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Washington (AFP) Feb 11, 2013
The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet Tuesday to consider the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the new US defense secretary, an aide to the committee chairman said.
Ex-senator Hagel has encountered stiff opposition from fellow Republicans who expressed concern about his positions on Iran, Israel and the US surge of troops during the Iraq war.
Last week committee chairman Senator Carl Levin postponed a committee vote on the nomination after Republican members demanded more information from Hagel, including the sources of payments for speeches he gave in recent years.
But Levin's office announced in an email Monday that he will now convene a committee meeting to consider Hagel's nomination on Tuesday at 2:30 pm (1930 GMT).
"It is the chairman's intention to vote on the nomination after the members have an opportunity for discussion," wrote Levin press secretary Tara Andringa.
On Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham threatened to block Hagel's confirmation until the White House provided more information about President Barack Obama's actions in response to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 last year that left four Americans dead.
Under parliamentary rules, a single senator can prevent nominations from coming to a vote of the full Senate, but some Republicans including John McCain have publicly stated they would not support such procedural maneuvers.
McCain, the committee's top Republican, said that while he thought Hagel's testimony at his contentious confirmation hearing last week was "discouraging and disappointing," the nominee has provided sufficient information and responses to the committee.
"I will not participate in any walkout of tomorrow's committee vote -- an action that would be disrespectful to Chairman Levin and at odds with the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee," he said in a statement Monday.
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