McCain leaning toward ‘no’ vote on Hagel

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump informally offered Cohn CIA job before changing his mind: report Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules MORE (R-Ariz.) said that he had "grave concerns" about President Obama's nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelIntel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security Hagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase MORE (R-Neb.) as secretary of Defense and said he was leading toward a “no” vote.

"I will see the rest of the answers to his questions but certainly I have very grave concerns," McCain told Fox News's Chris Wallace Sunday morning.

When Wallace asked if it would be fair to say is is "leaning against" voting for Hagel, the senator agreed.

But McCain reiterated his opposition to filibustering Hagel.

"We have never filibustered a cabinet appointee. That's why I believe we should not filibuster this nomination," he said. "We've never filibustered a presidential cabinet appointee and I don't think we should start here. Elections have consequences, unfortunately."

McCain also called for a way to avoid the looming bipartisan sequestration cuts, arguing that both "Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this new cliff" and warning that the "consequences are severe." But he said that he wanted to see a way to avoid it without new tax revenues.

"Would I look at some revenue closers? Maybe so," he said. "But we just raised taxes. Why should we have to raise taxes again?"

Both parties hope to avoid the across-the-board cuts slated to take effect on March 1, but are at loggerheads on how to do so. Republicans argue the bill should be replaced solely by cuts to spending, while Democrats want to see a mix of cuts and increases in revenue.

On Saturday, President Obama President Obama warned in his weekly address that sequestration would deal a "huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole."

McCain also ripped the administration's ongoing refusal to arm the Syrian rebels against their government in the country's ongoing civil war.

"I think they're writing one of the most shameful chapters in American history," he said, arguing that it was both a humanitarian crisis and a missed opportunity to weaken Iran, which is an ally of Syria's government.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week revealed that he had backed a plan to arm opposition forces seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The plan, though, was overruled by the presidnet, who expressed concerns that the weapons would fall into the wrong hands.