Senators still negotiating Hagel floor vote

Democratic and Republican senators are still negotiating over the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, pushing the start of floor debate mostly likely into this afternoon with a vote to come on Thursday.

“It's not set yet,” a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) tells the E-Ring, this hour. “We're still going back and forth with [Republicans]. Most likely scenario is still debate this afternoon with a vote tomorrow, but we still can't say for sure.”

Reid said Wednesday morning that he wanted to start debate today. The Pentagon badly wants a vote this week, in order to get Hagel confirmed in time to travel to next week’s meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. There, Pentagon officials expect European and Afghan officials will press the SecDef to discuss details of the president’s plan to drawdown troops in Afghanistan by half, as announced in last night’s State of the Union Address.

But by lunch Senate leaders were still talking it out, while others come to the floor to give reaction speeches to Obama’s speech.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call