Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeGOP considers ways to ‘modernize’ endangered species law GOP bill would eliminate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau GOP senators to Trump: We support 'maintaining and expanding' Gitmo MORE (R-Okla.) on Sunday threatened to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE (R-Neb.)'s nomination for Defense secretary, if necessary to prevent his confirmation.
“I want a 60-vote margin and you don’t have to filibuster to get that,” said Inhofe in an interview on Fox News. “I would threaten to cause a 60-vote margin. If it took a filibuster, I’d do it that way.”
Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that requiring 60 votes to confirm nominees was common and dismissed suggestions that GOP colleagues would be reluctant to back him.
The Senate has never filibustered a Cabinet nominee.
“I don’t trust this president to make the right appointment, I don’t think that Hagel is the right appointment,” Inhofe added.
Hagel has faced tough opposition from GOP lawmakers, who have raised concerns about his views on Israel and Iran. But Inhofe is the first GOP senator to publicly back a possible filibuster to prevent his confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDeVos should ‘persist’ despite liberal opposition CEOs praise House GOP border tax proposal GOP sets sights on internet privacy rules MORE last week refused to rule out a filibuster saying it was “not yet clear” what GOP leaders would do.
“I think the opposition to him is intensifying. Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet,” McConnell said.
An aide to Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynAngst in GOP over Trump's trade agenda Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy Comey meets Intel senators amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month that “all options are on the table.”
Their colleague Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTrump names McMaster new national security adviser How does placing sanctions on Russia help America? THE MEMO: Trump's wild first month MORE (R-Ariz.) has said, however, that while he is leaning toward a “no” vote on Hagel he would object to a filibuster and hopes to convince his fellow lawmakers to avoid that path.
If Republicans do not filibuster Hagel, he would likely be confirmed. No Democrats have come out against his nomination, and the party holds a 55-45 edge in the Senate.But even with a filibuster, Hagel could secure enough support. Thus far two GOP lawmakers, Sens. Thad CochranThad CochranMulvaney sworn in as White House budget chief Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief McCain announces opposition to Trump's pick for budget chief MORE (R-Miss.) and Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (R-Neb.) have endorsed his nomination.
The Senate Armed Services Committee vote on Hagel, which was expected to take place last Thursday, was delayed after Republicans requested financial information about firms tied to Hagel.
Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinSilencing of Warren another example of hyperpartisan Senate GOP going nuclear over Gorsuch might destroy filibuster forever Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-Mich.), though, insisted that he would hold a vote “as soon as possible.”