Inhofe pushes against proceeding to final up-or-down vote on Hagel

Inhofe pushes against proceeding to final up-or-down vote on Hagel

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for Republican senators to block former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelHagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase Pentagon documents hundreds of serious misconduct cases against top brass MORE’s (R-Neb.) confirmation once again when the Senate returns next week.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeEPA's Pruitt: Bring back 'true environmentalism' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase Trump meets with oil-state GOP senators on ethanol mandate MORE (R-Okla.) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to senators Thursday lobbying for them to vote against cloture on Hagel, saying that voting to end debate is the equivalent of voting to confirm Hagel for the top Pentagon post.

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Republicans last week blocked Hagel’s confirmation from proceeding with a 58-40 vote, which was the first ever filibuster of a Defense secretary nominee.

Inhofe’s push against proceeding to a final up-or-down vote on Hagel when Congress returns puts him at odds with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.) — who stepped down as ranking member of the Armed Services panel this year — and other Republicans who say they will vote for cloture next week even if they oppose Hagel’s confirmation.

“I hope the extra time afforded to review his record has been beneficial and you once again, will join me in voting against cloture,” Inhofe wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill.

Inhofe has been one of the most vocal opponents of Hagel, alleging that he was “cozy” with Iran and endorsed by Tehran due to statements from Iran’s foreign ministry.

McCain, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (R-S.C.) and other Republicans said last week that they were blocking Hagel’s nomination because Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) was rushing his confirmation.

They insisted that the move was not a filibuster, however, and said that once the full Senate had the recess week to look over Hagel’s record, they would vote to a proceed with an up-or-down final vote.

“I think it’s appropriate to wait until we come back,” McCain said last week. “I think there’s plenty of time to have any further questions answered and I intend to vote for cloture then. ... He’d certainly get mine and a number of others.”

Now Inhofe is calling for Republicans to block Hagel by opposing the cloture vote, rather than just delaying the confirmation. Inhofe has also called for a 60-vote threshold to clear Hagel.

“I know the Senate has traditionally deferred to the President on Cabinet nominations. However, our nation is at war,” Inhofe wrote. “The Senate must insist on confirming only the most effective leaders, not only to keep our nation safe, but to ensure our service members receive the leadership they deserve.

Inhofe laid out his concerns with Hagel in the letter on nuclear issues, Israel, Iran and the Pentagon budget.

Inhofe was also one of 15 GOP senators on a letter to Obama Thursday from Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix MORE (R-Texas) urging the White House to withdraw Hagel’s nomination.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the White House will “absolutely not” withdraw Hagel.

“Any suggestion to the contrary might have been found in the minutes of the meetings of the Friends of Hamas,” Carney said, making light of a conservative media report that alleged Hagel had ties to the fake group.

Democrats and the White House blasted the GOP block on Hagel, accusing Republicans of playing politics and harming national security in the process.

The cloture vote on Hagel last week was one vote short of getting the necessary 60 votes, as four Republicans — Sens. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTrump's chief agricultural negotiator will fight for American farmers Rep. Cummings hospitalized, wife suspends gubernatorial campaign Medical cannabis community must join together and resist any action taken against us MORE (Miss.), Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (Neb.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (Maine) — joined Democrats in favor of ending debate. Reid changed his vote to no for procedural reasons.

Cochran and Johanns have said they will vote for Hagel, and a third Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), said Thursday he is supporting Hagel as well.

Collins said last week she was opposed to Hagel’s nomination but would vote for cloture, and Murkowski has not said how she will vote.
Republicans wanted the delay over the recess because of requests for additional financial information over Hagel’s compensation and paid speeches.

McCain and Graham had also threatened to block Hagel over questions they wanted the White House to answer on Benghazi, but they received a letter from the administration ahead of the vote.

Nevertheless, they said they were voting against cloture because their colleagues still had unanswered questions.

Updated at 5:45 p.m.