Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) plans to vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, becoming the third Republican to support the former Nebraska senator’s nomination.
“He’s probably as good as we’re going to get,” Shelby said on Wednesday, according to the Decatur Daily.
“Yes, barring any unforeseen surprises brought to light before the vote, Sen. Shelby intends to support the nomination,” a spokesman told The Hill.
Hagel came one vote short of confirmation last week as Senate Republicans mounted an unprecedented filibuster of a cabinet nominee, citing the need for more time to review additional financial and speech records. Shelby’s endorsement is likely to push Hagel over the top as lawmakers return from recess next week to reconsider the nomination.
On Thursday, a group of 14 Republican senators sent President Obama a letter, urging him to withdraw Hagel’s nomination. Absent from the signatories, as Politico’s Tim Mak notes, were Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who have previously signaled their opposition to Hagel.