Washington (CNN) – Sen. John McCain is seeking a slot on the Foreign Relations Committee next year and could be in place to grill United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice at her confirmation hearing if President Obama nominates her to be secretary of state.
The Arizona Republican is one of Rice's harshest critics. He has suggested the U.N. ambassador tried to cover up the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya - which killed four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens - as a means to help the president win re-election.
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McCain's spokesman Brian Rogers said the veteran senator is seeking a slot on the international affairs panel, which has oversight of the State Department. Many Republicans have suggested her confirmation process would serve as a high profile de facto examination of the administration's handling of the Benghazi tragedy and its aftermath.
If Rice doesn't get the nod, the current chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, is another likely choice. McCain and other GOP critics of Rice have said Kerry would be a better pick and could sail through confirmation.
McCain's six-year stint as the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee is term-limited and coming to an end. He could have pushed to become the top Republican on Foreign Relations but has decided not to challenge Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee for that slot, Rogers said.
Committee assignments are not formalized until January.