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Republicans seek to delay Hagel vote

Updated, 5:33 pm ET, Feb. 6. The Senate Armed Services Committee may delay the committee vote on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary.

That vote was expected tomorrow. However, Republicans say the former Republican Nebraska senator has not provided all of the vetting materials requested about some his past speeches and finances, and they are looking into a complaint by a former Hagel staffer that she was harassed by another staffer.

Hagel's explanation is that some of those materials are the property of organizations with whom he has worked. But Democrats see the attempts as an effort to try and get President Obama to withdraw Hagel, something seen as unlikely. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is among those Republicans who have explicitly asked the president to "reconsider" the choice of Hagel. 

"I don't think he's done anything unethical," Graham said. "He got paid to speak in front of groups; that's a common practice around here. I want to know who did he speak in front of, what did he say, and where did the money come from?" 

Hagel said at his confirmation hearing that he does not have all of the speeches because he delivered many of them extemporaneously.

The White House reacted to the potential delay, calling for the Senate to "move quickly," per NBC's Kristen Welker.

"We continue to expect the Senate to move quickly to confirm Sen. Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense," an official said in a statement. "Since his confirmation hearing, more Senators on both sides of the aisle have announced their support for his confirmation, including Sens. [Mike] Johanns [R-NE], Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY], [Tom] Udall [D-CO], [Kay] Hagan [D-NC], and [Richard] Blumenthal [D-CT]. It's clear that Senator Hagel has significant support in the Senate. So with 66,000 troops serving in Afghanistan and other Defense issues to deal with, it's time to move beyond these distractions and move forward with a vote on his nomination."

But without an opportunity to review all the requested information about Hagel's background and views contained in his past speeches, some Republican members have raised concerns and want more time.

Graham supports a delay. "You do have the ability to stop the nomination from going forward to get the information," he said. "I would be willing to do that. I would vote against a motion to proceed until I feel like we have the information that we need to make an informed decision."

Tomorrow, the committee will hear from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on the Benghazi attacks. Their appearance and testimony before a Hagel vote was one condition requested by Graham in order to leverage more access to information about the deadly attack in Libya. Graham said he would seek to put a hold on Hagel's confirmation vote until Panetta testified.

A decision on timing for the committee vote belongs to committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) who aides say is "working very hard to try to address and resolve those concerns today, so the committee can go forward with the vote tomorrow."

However, Levin's office acknowledges that it is unclear now if the vote will go forward as originally planned.

"We were supposed to vote tomorrow," Graham said, "but I think we should wait."

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told The Cable Tuesday that Republicans also are awaiting the results of a their investigation into a claim by a former Hagel staffer of sexual harassment by another staffer in 2007.

"I remember handling it, I thought it was handled," Lou Ann Linehan, Hagel's chief of staff at the time, told The Cable. "I did not bring it to the senator. I would not have taken it to the senator unless it required a termination and that wasn't the case. The term sexual harassment shocks me a little bit. I wouldn't have put up with anything that was actually sexual harassment. I had a very low tolerance for it. I don't put up with that stuff. Hagel didn't tolerate it, I didn't tolerate it."