El Senado de Estados Unidos, profundamente dividido, se apresta a votar el martes tras la beligerante selección de Chuck Hagel por parte del presidente Barack Obama para que ocupe el cargo de secretario de Defensa. El ex senador republicano parecía en camino de ganar la confirmación después de una prolongada contienda política.


Doce días después de que los republicanos detuvieron la confirmación, la cámara alta estaba lista para votar el martes sobre la selección de Hagel, después que legisladores republicanos afirmaron a última hora del lunes que ya no utilizarán tácticas dilatorias.


Si Hagel obtiene los votos necesarios, sólo sería cuestión de tiempo para una simple votación de confirmación o rechazo, aunque los republicanos podrían insistir en el máximo de 30 horas de debate antes de la votación final.


Si es confirmado, Hagel relevará al secretario Leon Panetta y se uniría al reorganizado equipo de seguridad nacional de Obama cuando faltan apenas unos días de la entrada en vigor de recortes presupuestarios generalizados automáticos que afectarán al Pentágono.


El senador demócrata Carl Levin, presidente de la Comisión de Servicios Armados de la cámara alta, dijo confiar en que la votación confirmará a Hagel. Agregó que era crucial para el Senado actuar rápidamente.


"Es realmente importante que tengamos en su cargo a un secretario de Defensa cuando vengan los recortes de gasto, en caso de que ocurran", dijo Levin a reporteros el lunes. "Aún quiero decir 'en caso de', porque soy un eterno optimista", agregó


La nominación de Hagel dividió ásperamente al Senado, con republicanos volviéndose contra su ex colega de partido y demócratas apoyando la nominación hecha por Obama.


El presidente no ganó puntos con el Partido Republicano por seleccionar al dos veces senador y dos veces herido combatiente en Vietnam. Los legisladores republicanos criticaron a Hagel por algunas de sus declaraciones y por la forma en que votó en asuntos previos. Dijeron que fue demasiado crítico con Israel y demasiado transigente con Irán.

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