Sen. Inhofe threatens filibuster to block Hagel

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump ‘not happy about certain things’ involving Pruitt The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? GOP senator floats Pruitt's resignation MORE (R-Okla.) on Sunday threatened to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal Should Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security 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.

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“They are predicating it on the assumption that we haven’t been doing it. In the last nine years we’ve done it nine times; some of them have been confirmed some have not. I don’t see anything wrong with 60-vote margin with any of the two most significant jobs, appointments that the president has,” said Inhofe.

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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' 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 CornynMcConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' Senate rejects effort to boost Congress's national security oversight Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month that “all options are on the table.”

Their colleague Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Trump’s media game puts press on back foot Meghan McCain shreds Giuliani for calling Biden a 'mentally deficient idiot' Mueller warns of Russian midterm attack, while Trump attacks Mueller 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 CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTodd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm US farming cannot afford to continue to fall behind Mississippi Democrat drops Senate bid MORE (R-Miss.) and Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying 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 Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.), though, insisted that he would hold a vote “as soon as possible.”