Sen. Inhofe threatens filibuster to block Hagel

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans Pelosi faces pushback over stock trade defense Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate MORE (R-Okla.) on Sunday threatened to filibuster former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelInterpreter who helped rescue Biden in 2008 escapes Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk 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 McConnellNAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Sununu says he skipped Senate bid to avoid being 'roadblock' to Biden for two years 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act 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 CornynAll hostages free, safe after hours-long standoff at Texas synagogue: governor McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month that “all options are on the table.”

Their colleague Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainKelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda 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 CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future 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 LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.), though, insisted that he would hold a vote “as soon as possible.”