Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) says he plans to vote to confirm former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelThe US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? Senators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal Lobbying World MORE (R-Neb.) as secretary of Defense, bolstering the embattled nominee who has faced sharp GOP opposition.
Shelby's office confirmed that the senator from Alabama would back Hagel, provided there are no unexpected developments ahead of the vote.
"Yes, barring any unforeseen surprises brought to light before the vote, Sen. Shelby intends to support the nomination," Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo confirmed to The Hill.
Senate Republicans last week blocked Hagel’s confirmation in a first-ever filibuster of a Defense nominee, after Democrats failed to win the 60 votes needed for cloture.
GOP lawmakers had demanded more information from Hagel and said delaying his confirmation would provide more time for them to weigh the nomination.
Senators are seeking access to his personal financial records to settle questions about whether he received foreign funding for paid speeches. In addition, some have raised questions about a speech in 2010 in which Hagel is alleged to have said that the State Department was controlled by Israel.
But over the weekend, the opposition to Hagel appeared to soften, with many senators who voted to block him last week saying that they would allow his confirmation to proceed to a final vote.
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTrump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall Treasury won’t grant Exxon drilling waiver for Russia MORE (R-Ariz.), one of Hagel’s harshest critics, on Sunday conceded that the nominee was likely to secure enough votes for confirmation. Once the Senate ends debate on Hagel, he would only need a majority of 51 votes to win confirmation.
Shelby is the third Republican to publicly back Obama’s pick to head the Pentagon, joining Sens. Thad CochranThad CochranPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill MORE (Miss.) and Mike JohannsMike JohannsLobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops MORE (Neb.) who said they would vote to confirm him.
He did not join the four other Senate Republicans: Cochran, Johanns and Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsCollins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules White House denies misleading public in aircraft carrier mix-up MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiTrump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Republican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling MORE (Alaska) who voted for cloture on Hagel's nomination last week.
The White House has also expressed confidence that Hagel will eventually be confirmed, but on Sunday, Obama chief of staff said he had “grave concern” over the delay, which he warned could threaten national security.
Shelby also said he will vote in favor of former White House Chief of Staff Jack LewJack LewWhite House divide may derail needed China trade reform 3 unconventional ways Trump can tackle the national debt One year later, the Iran nuclear deal is a success by any measure MORE's nomination for secretary of the Treasury.
"I've known him a long time," Shelby said, according to the Alabama newspaper, referring to Lew. "I think he's honest and I think he's capable."