Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) charged that Republicans “continued their embarrassing display of disregard for our national security” by blocking the nomination of Chuck Hagel yesterday.
Before the upper chamber left for the Presidents Day recess, the Defense secretary nominee fell one vote short in a procedural vote that would have brought the nomination to the floor.
“In a time of war and threats to Americans at home and abroad, Senate Republicans are waging the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. Despite unprecedented responsiveness and transparency from the White House, Republicans have constantly invented new pretexts for opposing Senator Hagel’s nomination, and Republicans continued their embarrassing display of disregard for our national security by blocking Senator Hagel’s nomination today,” Reid said.
“Watching Republicans with otherwise distinguished records on national security place their desire to please the Tea Party ahead of doing the right thing for our troops is one of the saddest spectacles I have witnessed in my twenty-seven years in the Senate.”
Senators have indicated, though, that the block may be removed after recess.
“I think it wraps up with us coming back from recess. We’re in recess next week, because you know we never miss a recess,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) quipped on Fox.
“And I think we will vote his nomination on a party-line basis, just about, with — with rare exception,” he said. “…Frankly, because I’m opposed to him, I would love to see him step aside. But he will not. They will probably get the votes when we return from the recess, unless something else, another something pops up. And that’s doubtful that it will.”
“Unless there’s a bombshell, he will get an up-or-down vote,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a separate Fox appearance. “I hope one Democrat will look at Chuck Hagel’s record and some of the outrageous statements he’s made about the state of Israel and reconsider and have one Democrat vote no. If you could find one Democrat who’d vote no, the flood gates would open, but I don’t know.”
Reid said the nomination would be reconsidered “in the coming days.”
“Some Republican senators have said that they will change their votes, and allow his nomination to proceed at some point in the future,” he said. “I will take them at their word, and I will hold them to their pledge.”
McCain reminded the majority leader that his current huffing and puffing conveniently forgets another nominee.
“Even though Harry Reid has got a good memory, he seems to have had a memory loss here, believe in 1989 they filibuster or basically prevented Senator John Tower’s nomination from coming to the floor of the Senate. We didn’t have a defense — secretary of defense for three months,” he said. “It didn’t seem to bother Harry Reid or Carl Levin at the time.”