Sen. Inhofe threatens filibuster to block Hagel

Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election A dozen senators call for crackdown on Chinese steel Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (R-Okla.) on Sunday threatened to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelCreating a future for vets in DC Republicans back Clinton, but will she put them in Pentagon? There's still time for another third-party option 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.

“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 McConnellMitch McConnellRubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Pelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ 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 CornynReport: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Conservatives backing Trump keep focus on Supreme Court MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month that “all options are on the table.”

Their colleague Sen. John McCainJohn McCainHigh anxiety for GOP Trump: 'Very disappointed' GOP senator dropped support GOP senator: I'd consider Clinton Supreme Court pick 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 CochranGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Momentum builds for Clyburn poverty plan 'Hardball' Pentagon memo creates firestorm 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 LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? MORE (D-Mich.), though, insisted that he would hold a vote “as soon as possible.”