Report: McCain won’t back Hagel filibuster

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainFrustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Coats: Trump seemed obsessed with Russia probe The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE on Monday said he would not support GOP efforts to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelLobbying World The US just attacked Syria. So where's Congress? Senators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal 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 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.) and Thad CochranThad CochranDefense hawks gird for budget brawl Congressional politics hurts cotton farmers GOP senators dismiss Trump filibuster change MORE (Miss.), have endorsed him.

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump making calls to senators on healthcare bill Trump called Cruz to press him on ObamaCare repeal bill: report Meadows: Senate bill lacks conservative support to pass House 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 CornynLawmakers want meeting with Trump administration to take US-Mexico border trade Rocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill 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.”