Republicans seek delay to Hagel confirmation vote

Two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they have sought a delay to a Senate committee vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next US secretary of defense.

Senators Lindsey Graham and James Inhofe told reporters the vote had been expected for Thursday, but Graham said he had yet to receive key information about compensation payments that Hagel received for some of his speeches.

Graham told reporters he would prefer not to vote on the nomination "until I feel like we have the information we need to make an informed decision."

"We're supposed to vote tomorrow but I think we should wait," he said.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee which is to vote on the Hagel nomination, said a hold could be placed on the pick should it manage to pass out of committee and head to the Senate floor.

"That could happen," he told reporters. But "I'm not sure who would be doing it if they do."

President Barack Obama nominated Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska who served two terms in the US Senate, to replace Leon Panetta as Pentagon chief. However, Hagel has angered several Republicans with some of his positions on Iran, Israel and US war policy.

In a Senate confirmation hearing late last month, Hagel was grilled for hours on his past positions against the Iraq war and sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

Even as Graham said he wanted to know more about which groups or individuals compensated Hagel for speeches he has given -- "Where did the money come from?" Graham asked -- he suggested it was as much about Hagel's positions.

"I have no animosity against Chuck Hagel," Graham said. "This is a question about a world view that needs to be exposed before you vote."

Graham added he was not sure exactly how he would delay the vote in the Armed Services Committee.

"But you do have the ability to stop the nomination from going forward to get the information. I would be willing to do that," the senator said.

Committee chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, has yet to announce a vote.

"Chairman Levin is working with members who have concerns to try to address their concerns so hopefully a vote can go forward tomorrow," a Levin aide told AFP.

Levin would need a majority quorum in order to go ahead with a vote. The committee has 14 Democrats and 12 Republicans, so if all Democrats show up, he could proceed.