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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 HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelFormer Republican national security officials demand GOP leaders denounce Trump's refusal to concede election Republicans who could serve in a Biden government How a tied Senate could lead a divided America MORE’s (R-Neb.) nomination by Thursday even as Republicans are ramping up their threats to block it. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line 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 Milton LevinProgressives offer mixed messages on key Biden economic aide Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Michigan to pay 0M to victims of Flint water crisis MORE (D-Mich.) announced his panel would vote on Tuesday despite threats from ranking Republican Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Hillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget MORE (Okla.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill GOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Republican frustration builds over Cabinet picks 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 Sidney McCainChoking — not cheating — was Trump's undoing Gabby Giffords congratulates Mark Kelly with throwback photo of her own swearing-in McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return 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 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 (Neb.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Hyde-Smith fends off challenge from Espy in Mississippi Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race 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.