Multiple Hagel Confirmation Hearings? ‘It’s Possible,’ Says SASC Chairman Levin.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (L) greets Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., Jan. 22 after the defense secretary nominee met with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Capitol Hill. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It took lawmakers nearly 10 hours last week of sometimes-substantive, sometimes-political hearings to sort through the Benghazi scandal and Sen. John Kerry’s nomination to be secretary of state. Could it take longer for a Senate panel to grill Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s pick to be defense secretary?

“It’s possible,” Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin, D-Mich., told Defense News on Tuesday. “It depends on how the [Thursday] hearing goes. I just don’t know.”

Levin was clear that he has yet to formally schedule a second Hagel confirmation hearing. But it’s clear the chairman has thought about it.

When asked about the possibility by Defense News and other reporters, Levin quickly began ticking off a list of logistical and scheduling factors he will have mull before formally etching in stone a potential second day for the nominee to face even more grilling by SASC members.

“I’ve said there’s a possibility,” Levin said. “It depends on whether we don’t have enough time, or something shows up [during the back-and-forth] that requires a second hearing.

How about a back-to-back, Mr. Chairman?

“I don’t think so,” Levin initially replied when asked about a follow-on Friday hearing.

But he quickly backtracked — he went into a kind of stream-of-consciousness mode that offered a window into the kinds of things a veteran Senate committee chairman thinks about.

“I shouldn’t say, ‘I don’t think so.’ I just don’t know how long the [first] hearing will be, whether the Senate is in session Friday,” Levin told reporters. “I don’t want to preclude any possibilities, if there needs to be a second hearing.”

That’s a big ‘if.’ Maybe.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett