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Senate panel to vote on Hagel

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with a vote today on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary, rejecting Republican demands for more financial information from Hagel in a politically charged fight over President Barack Obama’s second-term national security team.

In a brief statement, Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the panel would meet today with the “intention to vote on the nomination after the members have an opportunity for discussion.” Levin had hoped to hold a committee vote last Thursday, but postponed it amid complaints from Republicans that Hagel hadn’t sufficiently answered questions about his personal finances.

Not all Republicans shared that view, however.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement Monday that he is satisfied with Hagel’s answers and is backing Levin’s plans for a vote, but leaning against voting for him.

McCain also met late Monday with some committee Republicans and urged them not to filibuster the nomination, saying it would set a bad precedent and pointing out that someday the roles could be reversed with a Republican president and a GOP-led Senate.


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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

UPDATED: 10:03 p.m.

North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site ahead of a new round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States. There was no clear indication in the North’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.