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 McCainBush World goes for Clinton, but will a former president? GOP senator: Trump could lose Arizona Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans MORE (Ariz.), James InhofeJames InhofeSenate Republicans push for Flint aid bill Menendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor EPA proposes climate rule incentives despite court hold MORE (Okla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office 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 ReidDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill 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 CollinsSenate panel approves 0M for international climate fund Don’t let Congress legislate science Democrats stage protest during brief House session MORE (Maine), Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate Appropriations speeds through spending bills Week ahead: Senators face unfinished defense work MORE (Miss.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiSenators seek state revenue sharing for offshore drilling Senate panel approves 0M for international climate fund GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling 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 HatchTreasury officials to meet with lawmakers on inversion rules A bipartisan bright spot we can’t afford to pass up: child welfare reform Medicare trust fund running out of money fast MORE (R-Utah) voted present and Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFed chairwoman blasts Trump on debt Senate campaign posts private conversation on Facebook Rand Paul endorses in La. Senate race 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.