Despite GOP filibuster, Hagel expected to win confirmation

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Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s choice for Defense Secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing. (AP Photo)

Washington republicans stymied Sen. Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense in a first-ever filibuster for the position — a stalling tactic that gave the Senate Minority an extra week to deliberate.

Top GOP players used this political leverage, calling for the White House to release information on Obama’s personal involvement the night of the Benghazi raid, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants answers, reports the AP News:

“There seems to not be much interest to hold this president accountable for a national security breakdown that led to the first ambassador being killed in the line of duty in over 30 years,” Graham said. “No, the debate on Chuck Hagel is not over. It has not been serious. We don’t have the information we need. And I’m going to fight the idea of jamming somebody through until we get answers about what the president did personally when it came to the Benghazi debacle.”

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. makes his way to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Democrats and the White House struggled to break an impasse as Republicans block nomination for Pentagon Chief. (AP Photo)

Still conflicted over the presidential election last November, Republicans created yet another obstruction for their Democrat president, adding to a pattern of partisanship plaguing Washington at present. The Secretary of Defense position has never been filibustered, reports Richard Lardner at the Associated Press:

[Sen. Harry] Reid said it was “shocking” and “tragic” that the GOP would attempt to block Hagel’s nomination at a time when the U.S. military is engaged in so many places around the world. “Not a single nominee for secretary of defense ever in the history of our country has been filibustered,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor.

 

 

After an 11-day delay caused by the Republicans’ filibuster, the Hagel confirmation goes to the Senate floor for a vote this week. In a letter to Hagel, Sen. Lindsey Graham demanded Hagel release critical documents from the former Nebraskan senator’s two terms in office. Graham writes to Hagel in the letter dated February 22, 2013:

The Washington Speakers Bureau has confirmed that it will not transfer to the Senate any video recordings of your past speeches without your authorization. The University of Nebraska-Omaha is stonewalling Senate staff and journalists seeking access to your Senate office archive, which is filled with past speeches, videos, letter and notes.

Hagel narrowly missed the 60 votes needed to win conformation the first time around, collecting only 58 votes. The cabinet position left vacant by Leon Panetta, is now likely to be filled by Hagel after a senior Republican senator announced his support for President Obama’s nominee. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama announced his support for Hagel’s nomination, said Luke Johnson at the Huffington Post:

“He’s probably as good as we’re going to get,” Shelby said of Hagel in a Wednesday speech, according to a report in the Decatur Daily.

Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo confirmed his intentions in an email to The Huffington Post. “Barring any unforseen surprises before the votes, Sen. Shelby intends to support both nominations,” he said, adding that he would vote for Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew as well.

Senate Republicans succeeded in sustaining an unprecedented filibuster on Hagel’s nomination Thursday after Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. The Senate is currently in recess, but Hagel is likely to face an easier road after this week.

In a last-ditch effort by Republicans, 15 Senators signed a letter to President Obama requesting he withdraw Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

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