Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellHealthcare saga shaping GOP approach to tax bill Key Senate Republican offers dim outlook for Trump budget Senate votes to confirm US ambassador to China 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.

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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 GrahamCongress should pass the GOP's RAC Act to protect Dreamers Juan Williams: Trump morphs into Nixon This week: Congress awaits Comey testimony MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday calling the decision an "in your face nomination" from Obama.