Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRyan: Trump 'a chairman' who 'delegates the details' Five things to watch for in Trump’s address Speaker Ryan faces crucial stretch MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday declined to support former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE for secretary of Defense and said Republicans would look closely at the likely nominee.

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Obama is expected to nominate Hagel soon to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon, reports Sunday said. Although former senators often get a break from their former colleagues during the nomination process, Hagel has already proven highly controversial, with some conservatives questioning his commitment to Israel.

“I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go, and whether Chuck’s views square” with the job, McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

He said any nominee would need to have “a close understanding” of the U.S.’s relationship with Israel.

“Whoever that is will be given a thorough vetting,” McConnell vowed.

The Republican Senate leader had praised Hagel’s “clear voice” when Hagel retired from the Senate in 2008.

The selection is likely to spark a contentious nomination fight, with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSpeaker Ryan faces crucial stretch March is the biggest month for GOP in a decade The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday calling the decision an "in your face nomination" from Obama.