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Hagel vote delayed after Republicans demand more information

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has delayed a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary after 25 Republican senators demanded more information from the former Nebraska senator.

The senators want Hagel to disclose who funded his private speeches, as well as any foreign funders of organizations to which he has profitable ties, according to a letter given to the Washington Post by GOP sources.

Foreign Policy reported Tuesday evening that Sens. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, and Jeff Sessions, an Arizona Republican would not agree to a Senate Armed Services Committee vote without more information from the former Nebraska senator.

Hagel has said most of his speeches were extemporaneous and has promised to divest some of his financial holdings and resign from any organization that poses a conflict of interest.

Sessions is also waiting for the results of an investigation into whether Hagel knew that in 2007, a female staff member in the senator’s office reported sexual harassment by a senior male staff member.

Hagel’s chief of staff from the time of the incident, Lou Ann Linehan, told Foreign Policy that she did not bring the incident up with the senator because it did not require a termination. She said she handled the incident and thought it was resolved; she also described it as a dispute, not sexual harassment. “The term sexual harassment shocks me a little bit. I wouldn’t have put up with anything that was actually sexual harassment,” she said.

In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, asked President Obama to “reconsider” Hagel’s nomination. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said that Hagel might face a 60-vote threshold for confirmation in the whole Senate. But a successful filibuster is unlikely; there are 55 Democrats in the upper chamber, and several Republicans either support Hagel or oppose the unprecedented use of a filibuster to block his appointment.

Levin had previously said a vote in the committee, where Democrats have a 14-to-12 edge, could take place as early as today.

“I intend to schedule a vote on the nomination as soon as possible,” the senator said in a statement.

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