Report: McCain won’t back Hagel filibuster

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE on Monday said he would not support GOP efforts to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelPentagon documents hundreds of serious misconduct cases against top brass Obama defense sec: Trump's treatment of Gold Star families 'sickens' me The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (Neb.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranWhite House requests B for missile defense to counter North Korea Senate narrowly passes 2018 budget, paving way for tax reform Live coverage: The Senate's 2018 budget 'vote-a-rama' 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 McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law 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 CornynAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Overnight Defense: Lawmakers question military's lapse after Texas shooting | Trump asks North Korea to 'make a deal' | Senate panel approves Army pick Overnight Regulation: House passes bill to overturn joint-employer rule | Trump officials to allow work requirements for Medicaid | Lawmakers 'alarmed' by EPA's science board changes 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.”