Senator John McCain said on Monday he opposes using a procedural hurdle to block a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, a stance likely to boost White House confidence that Hagel will win Senate confirmation.
“I do not support a filibuster,” the Arizona Republican told reporters at the Capitol. “I don’t think it’s appropriate and I would oppose such a move.”
McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, did not say whether he would vote to confirm Hagel.
The former Republican senator faced a barrage of questions about his record from McCain and others last week when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
But even before McCain spoke, a source close to the administration of President Barack Obama said the White House believed it would have the votes to get Hagel confirmed.
Administration insiders say their “head count” shows that all 53 Democrats in the Senate, as well as two independents and a handful of moderate Republicans, are likely to vote to confirm Hagel.
Once the 100-member Senate moves to a final vote, all the nominee needs is a simple majority.
Administration officials also said they thought there were enough Republicans - at least five - who would vote with the Democrats to oppose any procedural maneuvers to block Hagel’s nomination.
It’s still unclear how quickly the Hagel nomination can move forward. First he must be approved in committee. Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat, has said the earliest a committee vote on Hagel can take place is this Thursday.