By Jeremy Herb - 02/01/13 08:10 PM EST
Twelve Republican senators now say they will vote against former Sen. Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb.) confirmation as Defense secretary.
Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) became the latest "no" votes on Friday, saying they would oppose Hagel's nomination one day after a shaky confirmation hearing in which Hagel was grilled by Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Dan Coats (Ind.) said Thursday they were voting against Hagel.
Several more Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), haven’t said how they will vote, but are clearly leaning against voting to confirm him.
“Senator Hagel’s answers before the committee were simply too inconsistent, particularly as they related to Iran and Israel,” Blunt said in a statement. “The idea that we can contain a nuclear Iran and his view that we should not have unilateral sanctions are just wrong and are too dangerous for us to try.”
Kirk also cited the testimony in suggesting he'd been troubled by Hagel's initial description of Iran's government as being legitimate and elected.
"During yesterday's confirmation hearing, Senator Hagel instinctively called the Iranian government both elected and legitimate," Kirk said in a statement. "He initially offered strong support for containment of Iran, rather than President Obama's stated policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout. He could not clearly explain his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran – opposition as recent as 2008."
Blunt, who will also vote on Hagel’s confirmation in the Armed Services Committee, stopped short of supporting a filibuster of Hagel on the Senate floor.
“My strong inclination would be that this is a vote that should be done by a majority rather than a 60-vote standard,” Blunt said on MSNBC.
Thus far, no Republican has threatened to filibuster Hagel’s nomination.
Without a filibuster, Hagel is likely to be confirmed. No Democrats have said they will vote against him, and they enjoy a 55-45 advantage in the Senate. That suggests the confirmation vote will be mostly along party lines — rare for a Defense secretary confirmation — with few Republicans supporting their former Senate colleague.
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) is the only Republican who has said publicly he supports Hagel.
The other Republicans who have said they will vote against Hagel are Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), David Vitter (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.).
Burr said in a statement that Thursday’s hearing reiterated “many of the concerns I had about his confirmation," according to WWAY.
“After reviewing the hearing, and Sen. Hagel's answers to the questions put to him, it is clear that I cannot support his nomination, and I will vote against his nomination should it reach the Senate floor,” Burr said.
— Published at 11:43 a.m. and updated at 3:10 p.m.