Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked -- for now -- Chuck Hagel's nomination to lead the Pentagon, marking the first time the chamber has successfully filibustered a Cabinet nominee.
Hagel failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance to a final
confirmation vote. His nomination is still expected to be taken up at a
later date, but Republicans mounted an unprecedented opposition, mostly
over demands that the White House provide more information about the
Libya terror attack.
Hagel was just shy of clearing the 60-vote bar. The final tally was
58-40, with one senator voting present. For procedural reasons,
Democratic Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to "no" at the last
minute -- a routine move that allows him to bring up the vote later on.
Some Republicans said Thursday that they would be willing to
ultimately allow for an up-or-down vote -- which requires only a simple
majority -- once they get more answers on Libya from the administration
and once lawmakers return from recess. They return the last week of
"There are still questions outstanding," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
said on the floor, asking for "sufficient time" to get those answers.
The battle on the floor of the Senate Thursday was historic. The Senate
has never successfully filibustered a Cabinet secretary before. Only two
previous Cabinet officials required 60 votes before confirmation, and
this has never happened for a Defense secretary nominee. Democrats hold a
55-45 edge in the Senate and have the numbers to confirm Hagel on a
majority vote, if allowed to get to that point.
Republicans already are almost uniformly opposed to Hagel. But with the
leverage of a 60-vote threshold, they are also demanding the White House
provide more information about what Obama was doing on the night of the
Benghazi terror attack. (Full Story)