Cornyn: Hagel vote could be ‘expedited’ if nominee turns over financial records

A floor vote on former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) confirmation could be “expedited” if Hagel turns over the financial documents that some Republicans are requesting, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Hill.

Cornyn said Wednesday that he believed at least one Republican colleague would object to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proceeding to a vote on Hagel without the requests being met.

That would force a cloture vote requiring a 60-vote threshold before proceeding to confirm Hagel as Defense secretary.

“I think there’s still a desire to get responses to the legitimate questions that have been asked, and so far that hasn’t been complied with,” Cornyn said. “This could all be expedited if they would just respond to the reasonable questions being asked of them.”

Some Republican lawmakers say Hagel has failed to disclose funding sources for money he received and have questioned whether he received compensation for speeches to "extreme or radical groups."

Reid said this week that he wants to hold a vote on Hagel Wednesday or Thursday, and that he would reject all Republican holds, an informal method that senators can use to object to proceeding on a nomination.

If Reid is forced to file cloture, the vote to end debate might not come until Friday.

As other Republicans have done, Cornyn stopped short of saying Republicans would filibuster Hagel’s nomination, even if they force a cloture vote with a 60-vote threshold.

“When you deny cloture, that doesn’t mean that the nomination is doomed. It just means the debate will continue and there will be more time given to negotiate,” said Cornyn, who was one of the first to oppose Hagel’s nomination.

Senate Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has said this week that he will require a 60-vote threshold for Hagel.

“Not force a filibuster, force a 60-vote threshold,” Inhofe said Tuesday. “It’s a different thing altogether.”

Cornyn would not say whether he thought Republicans could get 41 votes to prevent a final confirmation vote.

“I’m not going to speculate about that move, but we’ll see,” Cornyn said.

There would likely be enough votes to defeat a GOP filibuster, as no Democrats are opposed to Hagel’s confirmation and numerous Republican senators have said they are against a filibuster, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

McCain believes that Hagel has fulfilled the committee’s disclosure requirements, according to a Senate aide. But McCain also said at Tuesday’s committee vote that he was opposed to proceeding with the nomination until the questions that he and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) have asked President Obama about the attack in Benghazi are answered.

The aide said that McCain fully expects to have an answer before any vote.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) rejected multiple Republican requests on Tuesday to delay a committee vote over the requested Hagel financial information.

“We're not going to single out one nominee for this kind of disparate treatment,” Levin said.

Hagel’s nomination was approved by the committee on a party-line 14-11 vote after a fiery hearing.