By Carlo Muñoz - 02/15/13 08:05 PM EST
The White House may be well served "to go back to the drawing board" on its nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE (R-Neb.) for secretary of Defense and offer up another, more politically viable candidate for the position, committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) told reporters.
Fellow Senate Republicans John McCainJohn McCainFox News bests major networks in convention ratings Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames InhofeFeds withdraw lesser prairie-chicken protections A GMO labeling law that doesn’t require English? No thanks! Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (Okla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamVulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ Ex-UN ambassador John Bolton: Trump should take back NATO remarks MORE (S.C.) battered Hagel during the nominee's confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January.
Aside from McKeon, Graham is the only other lawmaker to call upon the White House to withdraw Hagel's nomination.
A shift away from Hagel would go a long way toward alleviating the political tensions surrounding Defense secretary position and open the door to a number of other candidates with the experience and expertise to run the department, McKeon added.
Former DOD policy chief Michele Flournoy, according to McKeon, would be a prime example of a qualified nominee who would not draw the scathing, partisan rhetoric that has been aimed at Hagel.
Flournoy, along with current Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, were rumored to be on the Obama administration's shortlist for the top job at DOD.
The furor over the Hagel nomination may have prompted another high-profile defense nominee to reconsider his bid to remain part of President Obama's national security team, according to McKeon.
Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the former top U.S. officer in Afghanistan and White House pick to head European Command, is reportedly eyeing retirement rather than endure a contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate.
Allen's wariness to go before the Senate defense panel is reportedly rooted in the fact he may be forced to discuss his involvement in the sex scandal that forced former CIA Director David Petraeus from the agency last year.
A subsequent DOD investigation into Allen's ties to the scandal exonerated the four-star general.
McKeon would not comment as to whether Allen would drop his nomination to European Command, but noted the controversy surrounding Hagel's bid may influence the general's decision.
"Who knows," he said regarding the Allen nomination, "[But] look at Hagel and what can happen in the confirmation process."
McKeon's comments come a day after Senate Republicans successfully stonewalled a confirmation vote on Hagel, defeating an effort by Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSuper-PAC targets Portman on trade Dem leader urges compromise on FCC set-top box plan Senate Dems introduce Iran sanctions extension MORE (D-Nev.) to end debate on the nomination and hold a simple majority vote on the former senator's bid for Defense secretary.
By a vote of 58-40, senate Democrats failed to approve cloture on the Hagel nomination by two votes with four Republicans opting to support confirmation -- Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsThe Trail 2016: Words matter Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early GOP sen at convention: I'm not ruling out voting for Clinton MORE (Maine), Thad CochranThad CochranWhy a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform Capitol locked down for second time in a week This week: Congress eyes the exits in dash to recess MORE (Miss.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiBig Oil makes a push for risky and reckless Arctic drilling GOP divided over 0M for climate fund Overnight Energy: House passes first Interior, EPA spending bill in seven years MORE (Alaska) and Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.).
Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchBacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics Burr pledges to retire after one more Senate term Leaders appoint allies, adversaries to Puerto Rico growth task force MORE (R-Utah) voted present and Sen. David VitterDavid VitterDavid Duke will bank on racial tensions in Louisiana Senate bid Former KKK leader David Duke running for Senate Six senators call on housing regulator to let Congress finish housing finance reform MORE (R-La.) missed the vote.
After the defeat, Reid said he would bring the issue back up for a vote after next week's congressional recess. Republicans are expected to agree to cloture on the Hagel nomination and confirm him as the new DOD chief.