Report: McCain won’t back Hagel filibuster

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainPence tweets to congratulate ‘good friend’ McCain Clinton: Treat cyberattacks 'like any other attack' The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE on Monday said he would not support GOP efforts to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill 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.

But even with a filibuster, Hagel would win confirmation if he peels away enough GOP support. Thus far, two GOP lawmakers, Sens. Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.) and Thad CochranThad CochranWhy a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform Capitol locked down for second time in a week This week: Congress eyes the exits in dash to recess MORE (Miss.), have endorsed him.

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellReid says Dems may curb the filibuster White House sets up Puerto Rico oversight McConnell: Changes coming to ObamaCare next year 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 CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Top Republican questions Lynch on Clinton Foundation probe Baby dies of Zika in Texas 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.”