Faux-libuster is Republicans’ latest stratagem to block Hagel for Defense (Update: And it worked)

Hagel and Obama in Amman 2008 Paul Richards AFP
Hagel and Obama in Amman 2008 Paul Richards AFP

Update:

Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense has been put on ice for 10 days as Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster. The final vote was 58-40.

New York Times:

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a vote to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, arguing that Democrats were trying to rush a choice that they needed more time to consider.

In a 58-to-40 vote that broke down almost strictly along party lines, Mr. Hagel, a Republican, fell just short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and clear the way for final consideration of his nomination. Republicans said they intended to allow a vote on their former colleague when the Senate returns from a break in 10 days, but Democrats said the Republican position amounted to a historic filibuster of the nominee for a post that is usually filled with bipartisan support.

Democrats vowed to hold another vote when the Senate returns from recess. And all signs indicated that many Republicans who voted against Mr. Hagel on Thursday would not do so then.

Update:

Foreign Policy is reporting Democrats are two votes short in the Senate from forcing a vote on Hagel (see more about the parliamentary procedures at play in the original post below):

High noon for Chuck Hagel is coming on Friday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) opened Thursday’s Senate floor session by announcing he will test the Republicans’ filibuster threat and call for a vote to end debate over Hagel’s nomination on Friday morning.

To end debate will require 60 votes. Senate Republicans claim they have the votes to effectively block Hagel’s confirmation, though many concede by now that Hagel is a lock for the job. Democrats believe the handful of votes they need will come, but they are not there yet.

“Senate Republican leadership has informed us that they intend to withhold the votes needed to clear cloture and proceed to a final passage vote on the Hagel nomination,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told reporters in an email, following Reid’s announcement.

“We need two more votes to get to 60. That’s the state of play right now,” said an official working on Hagel’s nomination. Democrats have 55 votes, plus Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Mike Johanns, from Hagel’s home state of Nebraska.

The New York Times says “Republicans [are] mounting what appears to be the first filibuster in history against a Pentagon secretary.” More from the Times:

Mr. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska and decorated Vietnam veteran, had earlier appeared to have at least the 60 votes required to break a Republican filibuster. But Senator John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans who had said they might oppose Mr. Hagel but would not back a filibuster now say they will not support ending debate until they receive more detailed answers to questions about the administration’s response to the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Specifically, a group of Republican senators including Mr. McCain and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have asked the president whether he spoke with anyone in the Libyan government to request assistance during the attack. They say they have not yet received an answer to the questions, which are not directly related to Mr. Hagel. . .

According to the Senate’s historian, Donald A. Ritchie, only 5 percent of presidential cabinet nominees have been blocked or rejected by the Senate. And only twice since 1917, when the Senate’s modern filibuster rules were created, has a cabinet-level nominee been subject to a supermajority vote of 60, as Republicans are forcing with Mr. Hagel.

In the case of Mr. Hagel the opposition is especially striking because senators have traditionally afforded their former colleagues a high level of courtesy. Instead, when Mr. Hagel testified before the Armed Services Committee he was pummeled.

Original Post:

You’d have to be a parliamentary expert to understand the latest turn in the Chuck Hagel nomination to be Secretary of Defense; but apparently Republicans are now stalling the vote on the nominee with a faux-filibuster– endless debate — and Democrats pushing the appointment don’t have the 60 votes to end debate — to pass “cloture.”

The Republicans will abandon their opposition, some have indicated, if President Obama produces more information about the Benghazi embassy attack of last September, or if Chuck Hagel himself produces more documents pertaining to his finances.

Reports say the matter will come to a head tomorrow, with a cloture vote in the Senate and a possible vote on the nominee following Saturday.

Some of the reports:

Seung Min Kim at Politico says the Republicans have enough votes to put off the vote:
Sen. Roy Blunt signaled Wednesday that there might be enough votes in the Senate to delay debate on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon.
Blunt (R-Mo.) said he believes there are 40 votes in the Senate that indicate “it’s too quick to end the debate on this nomination.”

Washington Post‘s Rachel Weiner:

Republicans don’t want to filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense. They just want to require a 60-vote threshold to end debate on his confirmation on the floor of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has filed for cloture, saying it’s a “shame” that he had to do so.

“We’re going to require a 60-vote threshold,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Foreign Policy. But, he added, ”It’s not a filibuster. I don’t want to use that word.” Likewise, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he now might vote against cloture, which cuts off debate.

Daily News:

A president’s pick for a cabinet post usually requires only a majority vote, leading [Majority Leader Harry] Reid to accuse Senate Republicans of orchestrating a filibuster against a nominee for secretary of defense for the first time in the country’s history.

But the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said it’s not unusual to hold a cabinet nominee to a 60-vote threshold. “It’s not a filibuster,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. “This has happened (before), and it’s happening again right now.”

Democrats are expected to muster the 60 votes needed in the 100-member chamber to clear a Republican procedural roadblock, clearing the way for a vote on his confirmation.

Once the roadblock is cleared, Hagel is expected to win the simple majority he needs to be confirmed.

Democrats control 55 seats in the Senate and none has come out against Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska who has faced fierce opposition from members of his own party.

At least two of the 45 Republicans in the chamber have said they would vote for Hagel’s confirmation, and several others, including Maine Senator Susan Collins on Wednesday, have said they would not support a procedural tactic to block or delay a vote even though they oppose Hagel’s confirmation.

Politico’s Manu Raju:

[Senator Carl] Levin says he’s ‘confident’ WH will respond to McCain-Graham-Ayotte on Benghazi before the Hagel confirmation vote

Peter Weber in the Week:

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed for cloture, or a motion to end debate and move to a vote on confirming the Nebraska Republican, starting the clock for a Friday showdown — and a Saturday vote, if Reid gets the 60 ayes to end debate — right before the Senate adjourns for a weeklong recess.

“This is the first time in the history of our country that a presidential nominee for secretary of defense has been filibustered,” Reid said on the Senate floor, after Republicans wouldn’t agree to an up-or-down vote. “What a shame, but that’s the way it is.”

It’s worth noting that no presidential cabinet nominee has ever been successfully filibustered — though two had to (easily) overcome 60-vote thresholds, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in 2006 and Commerce Secretary C. William Verity in 1987

Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics

{ 29 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    SNL should perfect that Hagel hearing skit & add a bit on endless prolonging. The show would get very high ratings if aired. The skits aired lately have been very unfunny. So what’s to lose from a pure business POV?

    • Bumblebye says:

      Perhaps a cartoon of a herd of terrified donkeys running as far as possible from Washington and the asses within?

    • Debbie Menon says:

      As I see it, The Repugs are doing damage control- they’ve taken the situation so far beyond absurdity that they can reasonably maintain that they suspect Hagel might actually be from another planet. This to take the pressure off the hugely obvious Zio-led inquisition they engaged in earlier. This should be patently obvious- but more milquetoast types who were never paying that much attention to begin with may be fooled. And don’t forget the notoriously short American memory.

      And sold-out Media people tossing soft balls and being complacent does not help either.

  2. As the Hagel nomination devolves into standard partisan bickering in the Senate, the Lobby’s methods remain on display for any with a keen eye to discern. Show obeisance or else you will regret it, whether we choose to attack you directly, or hide the strings we pull behind pious declamations of disinterest. With SNL’s fellate-a-donkey skit in the bag, it is only a matter of time before those who’ve allowed their strings to be pulled too egregiously will pay a price, at re-election time.

    By the way, the contrast here at Mondoweiss between the realism of the Chas Freeman speech, and the clown show atmosphere of the Hagel nomination, deserves a Pulitzer for effective journalism, in a time of Orwellian propaganda attempting to sustain itself before the ever-skeptical, ever-self-correcting American public.

    What I’d like to know is who the genius is at the White House who crafted this series of judo moves to turn an opponent’s great strengths against him.

  3. Reds says:

    Anyway to work with or follow open secrets to see how much “Donations” these Senators have received in the past 3 weeks? It would be interesting to see who also visited the senators office as well.

    • American says:

      @ Reds,

      I think the campaign contributions are only tallied up when the Fed Election requires them…forgot how often that is, but it’s a set schedule when politicians have to submit them. Meanwhile…this will give you some idea.

      link to maplight.org

      Top Senate Recipients Funded—Pro Israel PACS

      Recipient Amount

      Recipient Amount
      Mark Kirk $945,679
      John McCain $772,327
      Benjamin Cardin $446,948
      Mitch McConnell $404,700
      Carl Levin $366,278
      Robert Menéndez $343,394
      Richard Durbin $325,112
      Kirsten Gillibrand $312,687
      Mary Landrieu $294,259
      Harry Reid $261,708
      Frank Lautenberg $258,333
      Barbara Boxer $245,179
      Charles Schumer $243,149
      Bill Nelson $236,150
      Ron Wyden $219,931
      Sheldon Whitehouse $214,421
      Sherrod Brown $212,175
      Robert Casey $203,450
      Claire McCaskill $175,396
      Debbie Stabenow $169,089
      Barbara Mikulski $168,250
      Mark Udall $162,923
      Roger Wicker $152,561
      Bob Corker $151,820
      Roy Blunt $144,750
      Susan Collins $141,518
      Mark Warner $140,651
      Mark Pryor $138,250
      Jeff Merkley $137,130
      John Rockefeller $123,807
      John Thune $122,725
      Max Baucus $121,050
      Amy Klobuchar $119,302
      Pat Roberts $116,900
      Jeanne Shaheen $114,374
      Jon Tester $113,557
      John Reed $111,140
      Michael Bennet $109,126
      Al Franken $109,018
      Tom Udall $107,468
      John Cornyn $107,000
      David Vitter $105,469
      Joe Manchin $103,910
      Saxby Chambliss $103,650
      Tim Johnson $92,465
      Kelly Ayotte $90,350
      Martin Heinrich $89,160
      Maria Cantwell $87,722
      Jefferson Sessions $86,550
      Lisa Murkowski $85,900
      John Barrasso $84,550
      Lindsey Graham $84,515
      Daniel Coats $81,733
      Tammy Baldwin $81,637
      Patty Murray $81,550
      Thomas Harkin $81,480
      Richard Blumenthal $80,640
      Orrin Hatch $80,250
      Patrick Leahy $74,062
      Marco Rubio $73,800
      Richard Burr $70,850
      Robert Portman $68,815
      John Hoeven $67,535
      Thomas Carper $64,450
      Mike Johanns $63,635
      Dianne Feinstein $63,520
      James Inhofe $60,000
      ….continued

      More:

      link to opensecrets.org

      • seanmcbride says:

        Wow — look at those numbers. Lists can tell you what is really going on — collections of hard datapoints that tell the true tale.

        The Israel lobby has purchased the services of the US Congress on behalf of the Israeli government. Many members of US Congress are paid performers in a melodrama that has been scripted for them, often down to every last word.

      • flyod says:

        the numbers suggest inhofe and graham have been working hard to earn their keep. big money awaits a loyal zio-slave and these 2 have been working overtime at their present minimal wage

  4. gingershot says:

    Too bad Inhofe doesn’t throw a small cloture to his brain and thereby cut off his objections to Americans overcoming treason.

  5. W.Jones says:

    The Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s January 6 newsletter said on Hagel:

    Hagel is an active Episcopalian, and attends an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. On 12 September 2006 the Episcopal News Service ran a story on Hagel lifting up his “extraordinary leadership on the difficult issues surrounding recent developments in the Middle East.” The ENS story quoted Hagel as saying that the “core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict.”

    The ENS story went on to say Hagel warned “America is increasingly not seen as the well-spring of consensus that for decades helped create alliances and coalitions grounded in common objectives and common interests. … America’s approach to the Middle East must be consistent and sustained, and must understand the history, interests and perspectives of our regional friends and allies.”

  6. Kathleen says:

    Contact your Senators again and again in support of Hagel.

    • American says:

      My senator has now announced she will vote for Hagel. I think I’ll call my not pro Israel Repub Congressman though and see if he is doing any talking to the GOP senate or hearing anything.

    • Boston says:

      As I predicted last week, AIPAC et al are not going to allow Hagel in.

      I guess they feel like they have been a bit too exposed lately so they plaed this one a bit more cleverly than the usual. Along with the mass-media, they have set this up to look like Dem vs. GOP when in fact, the Dems would shitcan Hagel in a heartbeat if so ordered.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Republicans Mounting Filibuster Against Chuck Hagel: Harry Reid

    link to huffingtonpost.com

  8. Jan says:

    What these Republicans, especially Graham and Inhofe, are proving is that the Israel Lobby does control policy when it comes to the Middle East. I expect that both senators will be richly rewarded by the Lobby when they run again for office.

    • W.Jones says:

      What’s ZOG mean?

    • Citizen says:

      Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have reportedly said they will also vote for cloture — but only after the President’s Day recess, which lasts through the end of next week.

      Looks to me like the anti-bagel, I mean anti-Hagel, plan is to call in all accounts. This really is a battle royal, the cheeseburger of fame in Pulp Fiction. In their own way, Schumer et al are playing into this–it’s never been just the GOP’s hillbilly AIPAC front guys in the GOP.

      • lysias says:

        Congressional Quarterly expects Hagel to be confirmed after the Senate’s President’s Day recess: Hagel Nomination Hits Snag in Senate:

        Amid accusations of a GOP filibuster, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense secretary Thursday, but senators appeared poised to clear the nomination after the President’s Day recess, barring any unexpected revelations.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Know Senator Sherrod Brown will be voting for Hagel. Have contacted Senator Portman’s office over a month ago and the office folks were not clear about where Portman stood on the issue at that time. Just called again high volume of calls could not get through but left a clear and succinct message that would like Senator Portman to vote for Hagel and if not get out of the way and NO FILIBUSTER

  10. If the Democrats had any “nads”, they would make the Republicans actually filibuster by talking to the point of having to read from the Bible, Shakespeare, the phone book, and the newspapers – like Huey Long did in 1935 while filibustering to prevent the extension of FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act.

  11. Rusty Pipes says:

    Is it 60% or 60 votes necessary for cloture? If 10 Republican senators who oppose Hagel, but don’t want to filibuster were not present for the cloture vote, would the Senate need 56 or 60 votes for cloture?

  12. Keith says:

    I can’t help but wonder to what degree the Republican opposition to Hagel is payback for his support for Obama and criticism of McCain in 2008. Surely, it has nothing to do with his past voting record in regards to either Israel or empire, or his likely continuation of well established US policies.

  13. gingershot says:

    Well I’m mildly surprised but I’m going to hold on to my patience. What is important, as far as I’m concerned, is that he gets in and that a war with Iran is OFF

    As long as there is not going to be a war on Iran – I’ve got all the time in the world.

    • eljay says:

      >> What is important, as far as I’m concerned, is that he gets in and that a war with Iran is OFF

      I hear that Barry O. will be pulling 34,000 troops out of Afghanistan by next year. If you bring ‘em home, what do you do with them? You can’t make ‘em all drone “pilots”, ’cause that would water down the cachet of the “Distinguished Warfare” (love that name!) medal.

      With sanctions currently softening up Iran, and with Iran (yet again) one year closer to having a nookyoolur weapon with which it can wipe Israel off the map and push it into the sea, 2014 seems like it would be a good year to put those troops to work saving the world from AhmaHitlerjad and his New Holocaust.

  14. jimmy says:

    it would not be a war WITH Iran ..it would be a war ON iran

    I just hope before I die…that the trouble-makers in Washington get their due

    • Citizen says:

      @ jimmy
      The prelude to war on Iran, Draconian economic sanctions, have been implemented.

      Congress thinks eventually the suffering of the Iranian people under US economic sanctions will result in the Iranians overturning the present Iranian regime. Or do they actually think the regime’s principal members themselves are bearing the brunt of said sanctions? Congress can’t be that obtuse.

      What the sanctions will do, the harsher they are, will result in Iranian patriotic solidarity against Big Satan.

  15. American says:

    What kind of cartoon can we come up with depicting Jewish Dems sitting around with pads and pencils counting how many times Israel is mentioned in US official speeches?
    I get a picture of Dickens’s Scrooge character in a 21st century office monitoring the air waves and scribbling down ever mention of Israel to make sure Israel is mentioned more times than anything else in the US.

    link to mjayrosenberg.com

    This is what the NJDC issued after the Republican response to the State Of The Union message:

    Jewish Dems Slam GOP for Snubbing Israel in SOTU Rebuttal
    WASHINGTON, DC- National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Executive Director, Aaron Keyak, issued the following statement in response to Senator Marco Rubio’s glaring omission of Israel and Iran from his State of the Union rebuttal.

    “Speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) neglected to even say one word in support of Israel or our nation’s efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. President Obama was clear that we must stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace, and do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
    “Jewish Democrats are proud to stand with President Obama and his second term priorities that put support for Israel and preventing a nuclear Iran at the top of his foreign policy agenda. Republicans should support President Obama and his strong leadership on these important issues – or at least mention them when they choose to give a broad national address.”
    Did you get that? The NJDC is outraged by Senator Rubio’s “glaring omission” of Israel and Iran from his 2500 word response to President Obama, which it contrasts to the 39 words (all innocuous boilerplate) that Obama devoted to Israel and Iran in his 7000 word address.