The Senate's top Democrat has set the stage for a full Senate vote by the end of the week on President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a motion on Wednesday to limit debate and force a vote on Hagel's nomination. Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate and have the numbers to confirm Hagel on a majority vote. But they would need the support of five Republicans before an up-or-down vote on the president's pick to head the Defense Department would be allowed.
A divided Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday voted to approve Hagel by a 14-11 vote. All the panel's Democrats backed Hagel, while the committee's Republicans were unified in their opposition to him.