Report: McCain won’t back Hagel filibuster

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTo woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy Senate panel advances 6B defense policy bill MORE on Monday said he would not support GOP efforts to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal Should Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security MORE (R-Neb.), President Obama’s pick for Defense secretary.

“I do not support a filibuster,” McCain (R-Ariz.) said to reporters, according to reports. “I don’t think it’s appropriate, and I would oppose such a move.”

McCain said that he had not decided whether or not he would back Hagel, but support for an up-or-down vote from one of Hagel’s toughest critics could boost the nominee’s chances of winning confirmation.

With Democrats holding a 55-45 vote advantage in the upper chamber, a filibuster would be the only way for Republicans to prevent his confirmation if no Democrats oppose Hagel.

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But even with a filibuster, Hagel would win confirmation if he peels away enough GOP support. Thus far, two GOP lawmakers, Sens. Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (Neb.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMississippi Democrat drops Senate bid Dems look to keep up momentum in upcoming special elections Chamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith MORE (Miss.), have endorsed him.

Senate GOP leaders, however, said yesterday that are not ruling out a filibuster yet.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGiuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump now says Korea summit could still happen June 12 MORE (R-Ky.) said over the weekend that it was “not clear” if Hagel would be filibustered, and claimed GOP opposition to him was “intensifying.”

Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSchumer: Congress must stop reported ZTE deal 'in its tracks' Hillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech Senate GOP sounds alarm over Trump's floated auto tariffs MORE (R-Texas) said that “all options were on the table” over Hagel’s nomination

Hagel experienced a rocky confirmation hearing last week, with GOP lawmakers hammering him over past statements on Israel and Iran. Several Republican senators said after the eight-hour hearing that they would vote against Hagel.

Hagel’s first test could come as early as this week, when the committee, on which Democrats hold a 14-12 advantage, votes.

McCain and Hagel sparred fiercely during last week’s hearing over the Iraq surge, which McCain backed and Hagel opposed. McCain pressed Hagel on whether the 2007 surge was the right decision or a mistake. Hagel said he would “defer to the judgment of history.”