Feb 14, 2013 Comments Off Pat Dollard
Excerpted from Politico: Chuck Hagel’s path to the Pentagon struck another major roadblock on Thursday when Senate Republicans kept up their threat to filibuster, throwing the nomination into limbo as Congress prepared to quit town for a weeklong recess.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor that Republicans were blocking Hagel over their demands that he and the White House give more information about Hagel’s background and the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks.
Angry Democrats slammed that move, contending Hagel has cleared every bar on his financial disclosures and that he has nothing to do with Benghazi – and that the appearance of a headless Pentagon would only invite trouble for national security.
Nonetheless, senior Democratic aides said Thursday morning that Hagel’s nomination did not appear to have the 60 votes it needs to overcome Republican objections before a key Friday procedural vote, setting up a scenario in which the Senate might not act on Hagel until Feb. 25 at the earliest.
Then again, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he expected the Senate to act around 9 a.m. Friday “Whether there’s the  votes or not.”
“I just hope we have the votes to end debate,” Levin said.
Excerpted from The Hill: Senate Democrats will not have enough votes by Friday to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary.
Republican leaders in the Senate have told Senate Democrats they will withhold enough votes to prevent a 60-vote majority that would end debate on Hagel and allow a final vote, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
The move means Hagel will not be confirmed until at least after the Presidents Day recess, and that he will not be able to travel to a NATO meeting next week where the Afghanistan war will be discussed.
Retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has pledged to stay on duty until Hagel is confirmed.
This is the first time a nominee for the top Pentagon job has been subject to a filibuster, a fact that highlights how contentious Hagel’s nomination has become.
While Hagel served as a Republican senator just more than four years ago, his views on Iran, Iraq and Israel led to a fiery debate over his nomination. Hagel went through a rough confirmation hearing last week, enduring tough questions from Republican senators and turning in an uneven performance.
Since then, Republicans have demanded more information about speeches the nominee gave and his compensation for them. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a hearing this week suggested the speeches were given to extreme or radical groups, a statement some Democrats have criticized.
The White House blasted the Republican filibuster attempt as “unconscionable.”
“We urge the Republicans in the Senate to drop their delay,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president headed to Georgia. “There is a clear majority in the United States Senate for Senator Hagel’s confirmation. These delaying tactics are unconscionable, and they should end right away.”
“Next week there is a defense ministerial meeting in Brussels, where the U.S. will meet with our allies, who are making important contributions to our effort in Afghanistan, to talk about the transition in Afghanistan,” Earnest said. “We need our new defense secretary to be there. It does not send a favorable signal for Republicans in the United States Senate to delay a vote on the president’s nominee, a nominee who’s a member of their own party. It’s difficult to explain to our allies exactly why that’s happening.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stepped up pressure Thursday for Republicans to allow an up-or-down vote, arguing it would leave the U.S. without a Defense secretary.
“We, at 12 o’clock today, do not have a secretary of Defense,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “It is shocking that our Republicans colleagues would leave our nation without a secretary of Defense with all the things going on and when we’re in a war.”
Reid has filed a motion to end debate on Hagel’s nomination and move to a final vote. The vote to end debate is scheduled for Friday.