Hagel picks up more Republican support

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican Sen. Richard Shelby says he will vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, a major boost for President Barack Obama's nominee.

The Alabama lawmaker tells the Decatur Daily he has concerns about his fellow Republican but plans to support him. Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo said Thursday that, barring unforeseen surprises, the senator will vote for confirmation.

Hagel is a former two-term senator from Nebraska who has faced strong GOP opposition. Shelby joins two other Republicans who have indicated their support for Hagel _ Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

Last week, Shelby voted with other Republicans against moving forward on the Hagel nomination. The Senate expects to vote again next week when lawmakers return from their week long recess.

Hagel has faced questions over his comments about the Israeli lobby's influence inWashington, his position on Iran and his outspoken criticism of the war In Iraq, despite the fact that he initially voted for it.

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