02/02/2013 04:29 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

Mike Johanns To Support Chuck Hagel For Defense Secretary: Report

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) will support his former colleague Chuck Hagel's nomination for U.S. defense secretary, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Saturday.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, faced about eight hours of tough questioning on Thursday during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The White House defended Hagel's performance on Friday, maintaining that the former senator will garner enough votes for confirmation.

As the Omaha World-Herald reported last month, many eyes have turned to the GOP senators from Hagel's home state, Johanns and Deb Fischer.

“Chuck Hagel’s military career is nothing short of admirable and while he has been a long-time friend, we do have very different opinions on many very important issues," Johanns said in a statement after Obama announced his nomination of Hagel. "Now that he has been nominated, he has an obligation to elaborate on his past statements and fully explain his positions during what I expect to be a thorough and fair confirmation hearing."

Earlier this week, Johanns signaled that he was leaning towards supporting Hagel.

"It sure seems to me that this has gone well," Johanns told the Journal Star after meeting privately with Hagel ahead of the confirmation hearing. At the time, Johanns said he would reserve his final decision until after the hearing.

Johanns is the second Republican to back Hagel. The first was Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who endorsed Hagel on Tuesday.

A committee vote on Hagel may come as early as next Thursday. Democrats hold a 14-12 edge on the Senate Armed Services Committee.



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