WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) — U.S. Senate Republicans blocking a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary deny Majority Leader Harry Reid’s assertion the move is a filibuster.
Reid, D-Nev., took steps Wednesday to force a vote on bringing the nomination before the full Senate, after observing on the Senate floor that Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, would join other Republicans in blocking a motion to proceed to a vote, The Hill reported.
“This is first time in the history of our country that a presidential nominee for secretary of defense has been filibustered,” Reid said. “What a shame. ”
Republicans denied they are filibustering the nomination of Hagel, a Republican former U.S. senator from Nebraska — saying they are only delaying a vote until the White House accedes to their demands for more information on how President Barack Obama responded on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Republicans have also demanded information on payments Hagel has received, including fees for speeches. Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a letter to Inhofe last week those demands “far exceed the standard practices of the Armed Services Committee and go far beyond the financial disclosure required of previous Secretaries of Defense.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Nev., said he would vote against bringing the nomination to a Senate vote if Republicans “can’t get reasonable requests fulfilled.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Wednesday Republicans may have enough votes to delay a full Senate vote on the nomination.
Blunt said “it’s too quick to end the debate on this nomination,” Politico reported.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has opposed a filibuster on the Hagel nomination, said he will not decide whether to vote to end debate until the White House responds to requests for more information on Benghazi, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. McCain said he wants specific details from the White House on whether Obama personally asked Libyan government officials to provide assistance for U.S. personnel in Libya — including Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the assault.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has threatened to put a hold on the nomination, citing similar concerns.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told the Post McCain thinks Hagel has “fulfilled the disclosure requirements for secretary of defense” and that a filibuster on the nomination would be “a bad precedent.”
“He just believes that Sen. Graham and others are entitled to an answer to a simple question,” Rogers said.
Reid told reporters Tuesday he will not honor any holds placed on the nomination of Hagel and said the Senate may take up the nomination Wednesday or Thursday.
A Hagel aide told Politico Hagel “has nothing to do with Benghazi. Republicans keep moving the goal posts. First, it was that Secretary [of Defense Leon] Panetta and Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin] Dempsey needed to testify, which they did, and then they asked for more financial disclosure information,” a Hagel aide told Politico. “They know that the administration is competent, and we have the votes to confirm. They’re just trying to delay.”
The Senate Armed Service Committee approved the nomination Tuesday on a party-line vote.
Hagel will almost surely win Senate confirmation, the White House said ahead of the committee vote.
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