Udall, Bennet yet to commit on Hagel nomination

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DENVER — Colorado’s two Democratic senators remain noncommittal when it comes to the nomination of former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Department of Defense.

Hagel’s odds of confirmation went up Tuesday morning as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, announced he’d be supporting the Nebraska Republican’s nomination.

Schumer, who’d had initial concerns about Hagel’s past statements about Israel, met with Hagel and is now satisfied enough to get on board. His support offers other cover to other still undecided Democrats like Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who faces reelection in 2014, and his counterpart Sen. Michael Bennet, who just signed on to chair the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee through the next cycle.

A spokesman for Bennet says they’re planning to schedule a meeting with Hagel for when the Senate resumes in late January; and Udall’s office told FOX31 Denver that there’s “no change in the senator’s position” — of course, Udall has yet to take any position on Hagel’s nomination.

With Schumer and California Sen. Barbara Boxer backing the nomination, Hagel seems increasingly likely to win confirmation, even though many Republicans, who take issue with the former senators less than hawkish positions, are still certain to fight hard against him.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate.

A protracted fight over Hagel is likely to divert attention from nomination hearings for President Obama’s other cabinet apointees over the next month.