Sen. John McCain says he expects former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be confirmed as U.S. secretary of defense. McCain says he will support Hagel in the new role despite McCain's harsh criticism of his former colleague.

McCain told reporters during a trip to Mexico that Hagel had been hurt by a confirmation battle, but said that he and Senate colleagues could support Hagel in his work as defense secretary. Barring any surprises, Hagel is expected to be confirmed next week.

"I think he will have been weakened, but having said that, the job that he has is too important," McCain said. "I know that I and my other colleagues, if he's confirmed, and he very likely will be, will do everything we can to work with him."

Republican senators on February 14 delayed former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to be President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense, in a rare move to block one of the president's choices for his cabinet.