The nods come as little surprise after weeks of speculation, which has included robust critiques of the potential nominees – and no small measure of censure aimed at the White House for floating potential nominees without actually naming them.
This move, critics point out, has made it easy for opponents to pan the prospective cabinet picks and far trickier for supporters to defend them.
With the White House announcement, administration officials hope it will become more politically risky for critics to speak out. But the outcry is expected to continue.
Hagel, for his part, will face the toughest opposition from within his own party.
That became clear over the weekend, as Republicans signaled that objections to his policy would likely trump the deference lawmakers traditionally accord one of their own.
“I don’t know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon – little, if any – so I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice,” added Senator Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will preside over the nomination hearing.
While Senate colleagues like Graham acknowledge Hagel’s distinguished service in Vietnam, they cited criticism echoed in a number of quarters.