Senate Dems move to clear Hagel nomination by end of the week

Senate Dems move to clear Hagel nomination by end of the week

Senate Democratic leaders have moved to clear former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelSpy agencies changed rules, making it easier to unmask members of Congress Pentagon withholding nuclear weapons inspection results: report Lobbying World MORE’s (R-Neb.) nomination by Thursday even as Republicans are ramping up their threats to block it. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states THE MEMO: Trump's base cheers attacks on McConnell It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (D-Nev.) said Monday he would move Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary quickly to the floor following a Tuesday vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

Reid said he expected a floor vote on Wednesday or Thursday and was “confident” that there would not be a filibuster, despite the Republicans’ rhetoric. 

“There’s never in the history of the country ever been a filibuster on a Defense secretary, and I’m confident there won’t be on this one,” Reid said. 

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The Obama administration would like to finish the confirmation this week so that the next Defense secretary can be in place for the NATO meetings in Brussels that are scheduled for next week, a Democratic source told The Hill. 

“Sen. Hagel has operated in good faith, provided a great deal of information from the committee, and now it’s time to stop moving the goal posts and just vote,” the official said. “The Republicans are trying to delay a confirmation that is at this point inevitable.” 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) announced his panel would vote on Tuesday despite threats from ranking Republican Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeWasting America’s nuclear opportunity McCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait MORE (Okla.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGraham: Trump's Charlottesville rhetoric 'dividing Americans, not healing them' OPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct Supporting 'Dreamers' is our civic and moral duty MORE (R-S.C.) to hold up Hagel. 

Inhofe warned Monday he would force a 60-vote majority on Hagel’s confirmation.

“All I want is a 60-vote margin,” Inhofe said. “I’m entitled to it.”

“By my count, the people who find Hagel objectionable are such a number that he could be defeated, and I think his nomination should be defeated,” he said, though he added that he didn’t know whether he had enough votes to do so. “I feel a responsibility, because of all the things that we’ve been talking about, to do what I can to see that Chuck Hagel is not confirmed secretary of Defense.”

But Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.) told reporters Monday he was encouraging his Senate colleagues not to filibuster Hagel’s nomination. 

“It sets a wrong precedent,” McCain said. “Some day we will have a Republican president. Some day we may even have a majority in the United States Senate.”

Inhofe, who has said he is voting against Hagel, has no plans to walk out on the committee vote, an aide said, after there were reports Sunday that Republicans were considering such a move.He told National Review on Monday that Hagel would be reported out of committee, but that he and other Republicans would focus on delaying the floor vote. 

“Hagel may be passed out of the committee, but it’s going to be a long, long time before he hits the floor,” Inhofe said. “We’re going to need as much time as possible, and there are going to be several of us who will have holds.” 

Inhofe’s predecessor as top Republican on the Armed Services panel, McCain, also recoiled at the prospect of a walkout, a McCain aide said. 

“In his 26 years as a member of the committee he has never walked out of a vote, and he won’t walk out on this one,” the aide told The Hill. “It would be disrespectful to Chairman Levin and to the best traditions of the Senate Armed Services Committee.” 

Later Monday, McCain issued a statement saying that Hagel “has fulfilled the rigorous requirements” the committee demands of every Defense secretary nominee. 

“I believe it is appropriate for the Armed Services Committee to vote on Senator Hagel’s nomination and determine whether to move this nomination to the Senate floor,” McCain said. 

Republicans cannot stop a committee vote on their own, as Levin can hold a vote with a quorum of 14 of the 26 members — the number of Democrats on the panel. 

Only two Republicans have so far said they would support Hagel: Sens. Mike JohannsMike JohannsLobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops MORE (Neb.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP senators ask Trump to hold off on Venezuelan oil sanctions Both sides of the aisle agree — telemedicine is the future Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda MORE (Miss.). Neither is on the Armed Services panel. 

In addition to Inhofe, Graham has threatened a hold on both Hagel and Obama’s CIA director nominee, John Brennan, until the White House discloses more information about the response to last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. 

Asked Monday about the possible holds over Benghazi, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that delaying the nominations of Hagel and Brennan “does harm to national security.” 

“We have answered these questions,” Carney said of Benghazi. “What is unfortunate here is the continuing attempt to politicize an issue, in this case through nominees that themselves had nothing to do with Benghazi.” 

Levin had hoped to hold a vote on Hagel’s nomination in committee last week, but that was delayed after 25 Republicans sent Hagel a letter demanding more financial information about organizations he was affiliated with. 

Levin held off on the vote but wrote a letter back to the Republicans saying that the information they were requesting went beyond the committee rules. 

Nevertheless, The Atlantic Council, where Hagel is chairman, released a list of its foreign corporate and government donors on Friday on behalf of Hagel. 

However, a Senate GOP aide said Friday that this did not meet the senators’ demands because it did not contain individual foreign donors.

— Published at 11:43 a.m. and last updated at 8:26 p.m.