Update: 2:55 p.m.: Sen. Jim Inhofe told the National Review he's going to work as hard as possible to postpone Hagel's confirmation vote. Inhofe said it will pass through the Armed Services Committee, but he's going to try and draw the fight out on the Senate floor. "He’s definitely going to make it out of the committee," Inhofe said.
Original: Despite continuing objections from Republican holdouts, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a panel discussion and vote on Chuck Hagel's nomination to become the next Defense Secretary on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Carl Levin announced today. If confirmed, the vote will go to the Senate later this week.
The committee was expected to vote on Hagel and bring his nomination to Senate last week, but objections from committee members Lindsey Graham and Jeff Sessions over Hagel's controversial comments persuaded Levin to delay the vote. We already know that Hagel will be confirmed if the vote makes it to the Senate floor, but it will be interesting to see if a tight vote in the initial round affects the larger confirmation decision. On Meet the Press Sunday, Graham threatened to hold up the confirmation even further unless President Obama and his administration answer more questions about the Benghazi consulate attack — though it remained unclear how, exactly, he would hold it up now that Levin has scheduled a vote.
The Hill reports that Hagel's vote will hit the Senate floor so that Hagel would have the chance to be installed before NATO meetings next week, and that Sens. John McCain and Jim Inhofe, who have opposed the nomination, won't stage a walk-out in the committee vote:
“In his 26 years as a member of the committee he has never walked out of a vote, and he won't walk out on this one,” the [McCain] aide told The Hill. “It would be disrespectful to Chairman Levin and to the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee.”