With GOP Filibuster, Chuck Hagel’s Rocky Road Continues

It is the third time in Senate history a Cabinet nominee has been filibustered. But Hagel still has a chance to become the next Defense Secretary.

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Alex Wong / Getty Images

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel arrives for a meeting with U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 7, 2013.

Senate Republicans filibustered President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, by a razor thin vote of 58-39 Thursday, with one senator voting present. But all hope for Hagel is not lost. Just because they still want more time to debate their former Republican colleague’s nomination, doesn’t mean that Hagel’s confirmation is dead.

At least three Republican senators – John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr – said that they simply want more time and intend to vote for cloture – a parliamentary procedure that ends a filibuster by limiting debate to 30 hours that requires a supermajority of 60 votes – when the Senate returns from recess the week of Feb. 25. “I will oppose cloture because debate should continue and when we get back – unless there is a bombshell – I’ll vote for cloture and move on to his nomination,” Graham said on the floor of the Senate on Thursday.

(MORE: Hagel’s Hearing: Profoundly Depressing)

The key in Graham’s statement is the “bombshell.” Republicans still hoping to kill Hagel’s nomination will surely spend the next week combing over his past speeches looking for just that. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, has been demanding that Hagel disclose more information about the speeches he’s given since leaving office in 2009. One potential hurdle seemed to emerge early Thursday in reports that Hagel at one time called the State Department “an adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office” in a 2007 speech at Rutgers University. Jewish groups immediately called on Hagel to explain himself.

But the biggest challenge to Hagel’s confirmation has had little to do with his fitness for the job but with McCain and Graham’s demand that the White House provide more documents on the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack. The duo said earlier Thursday that they would filibuster Hagel until the White House produced those documents. After the Administration responded, the senators said they were mollified. “”I think it was an adequate response, yes,” McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done.”

Benghazi has been an ongoing sore spot between the White House and Republicans. Graham, McCain and Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, are also delaying the confirmation of John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency until the White House answers their questions about who changed U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points on the Sunday shows five days after the attack. Rice, working off talking points, said the attack, which turned out to be the work of al Qaeda-like terrorists, was simply a protest gone awry. Republicans furiously accused the Administration of trying to cover up its failure to adequately fight the war on terror and to protect American lives.

(MORE: Susan Rice Bows Out from Secretary of State Consideration)

Democrats argue that both chambers have held multiple hearings and all questions answered multiple times. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in responding to GOP Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin three weeks ago on a hearing on Benghazi, grew exasperated: “What does it matter any more?” she demanded. Indeed, after demanding that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testify on Benghazi – Graham’s ransom for not holding up Secretary of State John Kerry’s confirmation vote – the subject seems to have been so exhausted that McCain turned to asking about Syria. All of the news that day focused on Syria – not Benghazi. And polls show the public has a waning interest in spending much more effort rooting out who’s to blame – beyond the terrorists themselves – for the death of four Americans that day, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Hagel actually got 59 votes, with four Republicans voting for him, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his vote last minute so he could bring the nomination back up again, which he said he would do on Tuesday, Feb. 26. One senator, Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, voted present reflecting his long friendship with Hagel. If and when Hagel does manage to get cloture and end the debate on his nomination, he is expected to easily pass the Senate, which Democrats control with 55 votes.

Filibustering a cabinet nominee is rare: it’s only happened twice in Senate history. The first time was in 1987 when Ronald Reagan nominated C. William Verity to be Commerce Secretary. He eventually passed 84-11. And the second came when George W. Bush nominated former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne to be Secretary of the Interior in 2006. He was ultimately confirmed by voice vote – meaning no one opposed him. That said, more often Presidents withdraw a nominee who’s in trouble, as has happened 11 times in Senate history. Nine presidential nominees have been brought down by failed voted in the Senate, the last being John Tower, George H. W. Bush’s nominee to be Defense Secretary in 1989 by a vote of 47-53. Tower had an abysmal confirmation hearing, which lost him support.

Hagel, too, had a terrible confirmation hearing; even Administration officials acknowledged was a poor performance. A few times Hagel got the Administrations policy wrong. Once he had to be corrected by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, that Obama’s policy towards Iran is prevention, not containment. But given the Democratic majority in the Senate, and the fact that Hagel is so close to having the votes, it would do more political damage at this point to withdraw Hagel and nominate someone else. So, however long it takes, Democrats are pushing ahead, and hoping no more “bombshells” emerge in the next 12 days.

MORE: Can Chuck Hagel Overcome?

156 comments
BradBannister
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fitty_three
fitty_three

Rocky Road -> vanilla and nuts -> GOP.

Got it.

SteveZStein
SteveZStein

Or, support and work for Senate candidates who will vote to change the rules.  Which I have.  This ain't an amendment we're talking about - this is Senate rules.  Nothing about this is in the constitution.

fitty_three
fitty_three

I saw groeny use the word 'cite'.

Astonishingly enough, he knows not to use that word when he lies...

Poppersci
Poppersci

Not enough blame goes to the people for voting these terrible politicians in. If a company hired many bad employees, the HR director or senior management would get fired. But we talk about political dysfunction as if we had nothing to do with it. No, it's your fault, American voter. The irrationality, intolerance and anti-intellectualism, the failure to do anything for the good of the nation, start with the man and woman in the mirror.

pianomanrsn01
pianomanrsn01

Chuck Hagel is just speaking the truth when he notes that the United States has become the open bank account for Israel and a source of funds for its oppressive policies.  Whether any of this has anything to do with his nomination for Sec. of Defense is questionable. His job as SoD would be to carry out administration policy, not make it.  For Republicans to complain about his vocal opposition to AIPAC constantly lobbying Congress to give Israel money and free arms (an estimated $6-8 billion every year) is like complaining about your doctor being opposed to smoking and alcohol consumption.  No other country conducts this kind of fleecing of the American tax-payer. Do Hagel's personal opinions about external matters really impact his qualification for being SofD?

JeanPierreKatz
JeanPierreKatz

President Obama should never have nominated this terrible choice. It is very reasonable to believe Chuck Hagel's nomination threatens the national defense. His posture has already been interpreted as a green light  by Iran of it's weapons program. Since the nomination, they have refused to negotiate with the US and have increased their enrichment program.

doddeb
doddeb

"Throughout the Bush/Cheney era, this was as common as the sunrise. Dissent was equated with disloyalty. Prominent conservatives would casually throw around words like "treason," "traitor," and "fifth columnists." To give the appearance to the world that Americans were divided at a time of war was, we were told, to help the enemy.

 That was then. Their perspective seemed to change on Jan. 20, 2009.

 I know the "if a Democrat did this..." comparison can get tiresome, and I try to avoid it. But try to imagine it's 2005, Bush/Cheney just won a second term, and the president nominates a decorated war hero to lead the Pentagon. Then imagine Senate Democrats, for the first time in American history, blocking a vote on the nomination. Then imagine the Senate Democratic ringleader bragging on national television that Democrats did so in part because the nominee hurt their feelings. Then imagine liberal activists cheering them on."

 http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/02/15/16974718-in-a-time-of-war

glennra3
glennra3

Has the partisan anti-Obama sniping gone a little too far when Republicans won't even confirm a fellow Republican to the president's cabinet?


After all, Chuck Hagel was John McCain's choice for Secretary of Defense if he had won the presidential election back in 2008.  Now, just four years later he can't imagine his former campaign co-chair in the job?


Please.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

If you listen between the lines, all signs point to Hagel's getting the nod. The GOP just needs to prance around and continue to look like old, silly men - or young, silly boys. Take your pick.

eazj@yahoo.com
eazj@yahoo.com

the GOP is a laughing stock and a disgrace!!  They continue to whittle away what dignity congress has left, if any at this point.  They can't raise a debt ceiling, they can't pass a cabinet appointment, they try as hard as they can to look like complete baboons and halt progress in this country.  Yes, they are bitter because one of their own had the courage to stand up for what is right for this nation and at times go against his party - that is all.  Chuck Hagel has fought for this Country, Chuck Hagel will continue to serve this country, and the GOP should be voted back to the circus where they belong.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Why Hagel would be a decent Sec Def:

1) He is a decorated and honored Vietnam veteran.

2) He has called out the bloated and unnecessary spending in the Iraq war.  This is particularly interesting since he was one of the first Senators to support it; he was completely willing to buck from his party on this. 

3) He understand that the DoD's budget as a whole is horribly bloated and needs to be trimmed for a more efficient, practical military force.

4) As outlined in the above examples, Hagel is a true honest-to-god fiscal conservative, something that few members of the current GOP actually are.  This is precisely the type of thing the DoD needs right now.

There's four reasons.  Can I get some reasons beyond his performance at the hearing as to why he shouldn't be? 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Here's a novel idea: how about the sitting Joint Chiefs of Staff hold their own hearing with Hagel and they decide whether or not he's up to the task.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

 Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Why Hagel is a Good Choice

I'd much rather hear from members of the Pentagon on their opinion of Hagel than Senators, frankly.  Either way I should preface this that I don't actually care if Hagel is nominated - I don't know the dude from Adam - I'd just like to understand what the opposition to him is.

outsider
outsider

@pianomanrsn01  

You're writing entirely too logically for the GOP to understand. 

There isn't enough emotion - they're kinda lost without it. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@JeanPierreKatz

His posture has already been interpreted as a green light  by Iran of it's weapons program.

You must have inside knowledge to know this.  Are you with Iran's Quds Force?  

Since the nomination, they have refused to negotiate with the US and have increased their enrichment program.

They've been doing that for years.

BillPearlman
BillPearlman

@DonQuixotic My fellow Jews vote Democratic because liberalism trumps Judaism with them. And they are idiots. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic 

Well, not liking exactly what a nation does is exactly the same as having an irrational hatred for their religion right?

So by me thinking that Israels policy towards its neighbor only prolongs the conflict and solves nothing and waste our resources as we have to keep supporting them I also hate jews.

I guess that also makes me a moslim hater since I think Irans leadership is a big bowl of nutty shit. But Kevin in his rudimentary simplistic thinking assumes that if we don't like Israel then we automatically love one of Israels enemies - Iran. Ergo we love Muslims.

There's logic and then there's whatever rightwinger call the toilet bowl circular draining of mental faculties they do.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

No wait, I must be mistaken.  Clearly all of those liberal Jews are just anti-Semites that hate Israel, right Kevin?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@glennra3

After all, Chuck Hagel was John McCain's choice for Secretary of Defense if he had won the presidential election back in 2008.  Now, just four years later he can't imagine his former campaign co-chair in the job?

Bingo.  Four years ago was before John McCain became the bitter man he is today that is willing to torpedo his own friend's confirmation as a slight to Obama.  All of the complaints he raised against Hagel at the hearing, particularly on the surge, apparently were not on his mind four years ago.  Why should we take his criticisms seriously now?

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@DonQuixotic  

1. There are thousands of decorated and honored Vietnam veterans. Are they all qualified?

2. Your average moonbat with the Daily Kos or Code Pink complained about spending in Iraq. Are they all qualified as well?

3. Most Americans believe that the Pentagon budget can be trimmed in places. Does that make them all qualifed?

4. Hagel voted for both wars and the Bush tax cuts. So do you believe the spending on the wars and the tax cuts were acts of fiscal responsibility?

outsider
outsider

@DonQuixotic 


Forget it Don - you know Groeny will just try and put down any legit argument you make - just like he did below with disparaging Wilkerson, instead of addressing the argument. 


The fact that Wilkerson lasted longer in the military than Groeny mean's he's probably a better military man - and that kind of throws Groeny off. Also, he doesn't hold the same opinion, so there for he's a wimp, or some other name. 


Don't waste your time with this filth. He really, really isn't worth it. 

jmac
jmac

@KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic Kos served in the military and supported Bush the first time.   Even Andrew Sullivan and a host of other conservative bloggers saw the light - that's why you lost the election that Romney and Ryan were sure they had won even hours before they lost - they lost too many conservatives - many of whom served in the military.   

MrObvious
MrObvious

@KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic

There are thousands of decorated and honored Vietnam veterans. Are they all qualified

Yes - unless there's something that disqualify them.

Your average moonbat with the Daily Kos or Code Pink complained about spending in Iraq. Are they all qualified as well

Unrelated to Hagel. What you're trying to claim is that any compliant about the spending in Iraq is illegitimate based on who complained - not the merits of the complaint. That's a fallacy. The whole affair was a complete waste of our tax money. Heck billions were lost and never investigated.

Most Americans believe that the Pentagon budget can be trimmed in places. Does that make them all qualifed?

Irrelevant. Unless you show that it can't be trimmed then your argument is apples and oranges. It is bloated with enormous amount of fraud. That's clear through actual investigation. It's also statistically an awful way to stimulate our economy. And our new weapon programs as costly as they are have subpar advantages over existing weapons systems. Per reporting. 

Hagel voted for both wars and the Bush tax cuts. So do you believe the spending on the wars and the tax cuts were acts of fiscal responsibility?

He have also spoken out against it based on principles instead of walking in lockstep. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic 

1) Perhaps so if they also are Senators that have spent their entire career in support of Defense.  Is John McCain not qualified to be Sec Def?

2)  See #1

3)  See #1

4) He voted for the wars and then fought against wasteful spending within them, so yes.  It's an excellent example of someone acting on their principles.

I notice you're still not providing any of your own examples or arguments.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@outsider2011 @DonQuixotic I personally skip over Groenhagen's posts. I have better things to do with my time than read warmed-over Fox talking points and childish insults.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@outsider2011 @DonQuixotic 

Hagel really does have a checkered career too.  If Kevin took five minutes to actually look into it I'm sure he could give us reasons why he doesn't want him to be Sec Def, but instead all he can do is parrot what's been fed to him.

MementoMori
MementoMori

@KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic "limp-wristed moron"

Just another rightwinger with a mouthful if insecure insults. I'll be glad when Archie Bunker wannabes like Kevin are a distant memory.

Step11
Step11

Considering how he copy and pastes everything, it keeps him from having to come up with something new.  Professional writer say whut?

jmac
jmac

@KevinGroenhagen @jmac @DonQuixotic He WAS a conservative.  No one lauded W. and his invasion louder than Sully.  Except for his good religious pal Dreher who wrote a jingoistic column in the Dallas Morning News about the Eagle Has Landed.  Both lived to regret it. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@jason024 @MrObvious @KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic 

Kevin have demonstrated amply that anyone arguing against him are less then manly and that he oozes of unbridled machismo. He's a smartipants and manly man. All very important features - except showing any of it. It's a faith thing.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@KevinGroenhagen @MrObvious @DonQuixotic

Cite examples to substantiate your claim. Like your inability to show why you believe Hagel is qualified, you won't be able to do that, either.

Cite examples how you're a bigot or self-promoting smartipants?

I can about the bigot part but you're going to have to show some spartipants before I can give you any examples of that.