Senate showdown for Chuck Hagel?
Update: The vote for cloture on Hagel failed Thursday afternoon, 59-39. The traditional two-week period of caterwauling is already under way.
Chuck Hagel might actually be in trouble.
The Republicans have hung together well enough to threaten a filibuster. The Senate has never successfully filibustered a cabinet secretary; only twice have Cabinet officials needed to get 60 votes to break one.
Dems currently hold the Senate 55-45; they have enough to force a simple majority vote, but not break a filibuster, along party lines.
This isn’t really about Hagel’s shockingly inept performance during confirmation hearings, although it probably should be. Instead, the GOP is demanding more information about Benghazi, or else they’ll do the filibuster. It is speculated by some observers that if they harp on Hagel’s ineptitude and questionable statements too much, they’ll make themselves look silly by turning around and voting to confirm him, should they get the Benghazi information they want. This is not a problem for Democrats, who could not care less about what happened in Benghazi, and have no tough questions for any Obama nominee.
The Democrats are screeching that this is all very unfair. “Chuck Hagel had nothing to do with the attack on Bengahzi,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “There are serious consequences to this delay.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is still thinking about the serious consequences of the Administration’s shocking negligence in Benghazi: “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. No, the debate on Chuck Hagel is not over. It has not been serious. We don’t have the information we need.”
The Senate will be heading out of town for a recess, as Politico notes, so if Hagel can’t pass the big vote on Friday, he might not have another chance at confirmation until February 25 or later. Lord knows what the enemies of America might do with a two-week window of opportunity in which they know they won’t have to face Chuck Hagel.
Hagel spokesman Aaron Dowd hears no fat lady singing: “He’s not withdrawing He could be defeated, but he’s not withdrawing. It’s not something anyone is discussing.”