But Inhofe predicted that, ultimately, Hagel's shaky testimony and history of controversial statements on Iran would couple to submarine his nomination.
"They're going to have a hard time standing up and voting for someone who has been so anti-Israel for so many years," Inhofe said.
That may be wishful thinking on the part of the Oklahoma legislator. Democrats appear united around Hagel, and at least two Republicans have indicated a willingness to vote for him. On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House "believe[s] he will be confirmed."
Republicans could attempt a filibuster of Hagel, which would raise the threshold necessary for confirmation to 60 votes. Hagel would likely struggle to win over enough Republicans to secure 60 votes, although doing so runs a high risk for congressional Republicans already perceived as obstinate.
"I would be stunned if, in the end, Republican senators chose to try to block the nomination of a decorated war veteran who was once among their colleagues in the Senate as a Republican," Carney said Friday.