Thursday in politics: Hagel goes before Armed Services Committee, and more

Phil Pruitt

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, is certain to face tough questions Thursday when he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The grilling will include his views on U.S. relations with Israel and Iran and how he would manage Pentagon spending.

But opposition from his fellow Republicans doesn’t necessarily signal doom for Hagel's nomination. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News reporter Olivier Knox, said that although Hagel has strong opinions and quite a bit to explain, he is a "smart, capable guy" who deserves a full hearing.

The Senate takes up a bill Thursday that would suspend the federal debt ceiling until May 19, as long as both chambers of Congress commit to passing a budget. The measure passed the House last week.

Also worth noting on Thursday: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes her final address in the role as the nation’s top diplomat when she delivers remarks on “American Leadership” at the Council on Foreign Relations.

And then there is this: Senior administration officials will preview Vice President Joe Biden and second lady Jill Biden's Feb. 1-5 trip to Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Sources: Yahoo News’ The Ticket, Yahoo News reporter Olivier Knox, Associated Press, and Reuters.