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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Senate Armed Services Committee approves Hagel 14-11, but will need 60 votes for confirmation

Chuck Hagel's nomination cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee in a rare 14-11 party line vote on Tuesday night just before the President's State of the Union address. But Republicans are insisting that Hagel will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the full Senate (Hat Tip: Memeorandum)..
Several GOP senators told The Cable Tuesday that they will not agree to a simple up or down vote on the Senate floor this week, including Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican James Inhofe (R-OK), Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). 
Inhofe's demand for 60 votes is related to his overall objection to Hagel becoming defense secretary, which is based on Hagel's past record on issues ranging from Iran, Israel, Hamas, and cuts to the defense budget. Inhofe also wants Hagel to further disclose financial records related to his past speeches.
"We're going to require a 60-vote threshold," Inhofe told The Cable.
Cornyn told The Cable, "There is a 60-vote threshold for every nomination."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told The Cable that he is confident Hagel can avoid a filibuster.
"If there's a filibuster, I think there will be more than 60 votes to stop a filibuster," Levin said.
Levin is adding up the 55 Democrats in the Senate, all of whom are expected to support Hagel, with the two Republicans who support Hagel, Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), and the senators who have pledged not to filibuster Hagel, such as McCain.
I don't understand McCain's objection to a filibuster, but Inhofe seems to have found a way to work around it.
Inhofe insisted that his demand for a 60-vote threshold is not a "filibuster." Inhofe said he will object to unanimous consent for a simple majority vote, which will prevent Reid from bringing the Hagel nomination to the floor without first filing for cloture, which requires 60 votes to proceed to a final vote.
"It's not a filibuster. I don't want to use that word," Inhofe said.
It may be a distinction without a difference, but it's a distinction that GOP senators like McCain are prepared to embrace. McCain has repeatedly said he is opposed to filibustering Hagel but told The Cable Tuesday that he would vote against a cloture vote this week if the White House doesn't provide the information he has requested on the president's actions the night of the Benghazi attack.
"We need to know what the president's conversations were," McCain said. "I would vote no [on cloture] on Thursday [unless the information is provided]."
Graham is also opposed to a "filibuster" of Hagel, but told The Cable today he would place a "hold" on the Hagel nomination after the committee vote.
"I think the president has stonewalled the Congress on Benghazi. I think a lot of people are worried that we don't have all the information on Chuck Hagel," said Graham. "I'm not inclined to filibuster. I'm going to hold him and Reid is not going to not honor my hold and try to hold the vote on Thursday."
Senate aides told The Cable that the earliest Reid could call for a cloture vote would be Wednesday, according to Senate rules. That would set up a final vote for Friday, unless there were unanimous consent to move the vote up to Thursday. If the vote doesn't happen by Friday, it would be delayed until after the President's Day recess.
The Democrats' behavior is beneath contemptible. The Republican objections to Hagel are legitimate and deserve at least a fair hearing before the vote. Everyone should be  tired of being railroaded by Obama.

What could go wrong?

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