Update at 5:04 p.m. ET. Committee Approves Confirmation:
Voting along party lines, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to approve the nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the country's next defense secretary.
The vote was 14 to 11 with Sen. David Vitter, a Republican of Louisiana not casting a vote.
Our Original Post Continues:
The most-contested, so far, of President Obama's nominations for his second-term cabinet — that of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary — is due to be voted on this afternoon by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the committee will approve Hagel by a party-line 14-12 vote. That would send the nomination to the full Senate.
Some Republicans, such as Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, have said they'll attempt to hold up a vote. They'll try to insist that 60 senators must first agree that there should be a vote on the nomination before there can be a vote. In other words, they'll demand a vote on whether to vote.
But The Associated Press notes that Democrats control 55 Senate seats (two are held by independents who caucus with the Democrats) and that:
"Two Republicans — Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Nebraska — have said they will vote for the nominee. At least five Republicans, including [Arizona Sen. John] McCain, have said they oppose a filibuster despite their reservations or opposition toward the nominee."
So, it would seem there's a fair chance the push to delay a vote won't work — at least not for long.
That could mean, The Atlantic Wire says, confirmation of Hagel by the full Senate as soon as Thursday.
We'll watch for news from today's committee vote.