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.