Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellValerie Jarrett slams GOP for not including women in healthcare discussions Healthcare wish lists: What moderates, conservatives want Top GOP lawmaker questions tax break for wealthy in healthcare plan MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday declined to support former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelLobbying World The US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? Senators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal MORE for secretary of Defense and said Republicans would look closely at the likely nominee.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 GrahamGOP senators want surveillance requests from FBI Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership Graham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday calling the decision an "in your face nomination" from Obama.