February 15, 2013 - 11:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Senate Republicans successfully foiled attempts to confirm Chuck Hagel for the post of defense secretary on Thursday, Feb 14, by denying him the 60 votes needed for the nomination to proceed, The Huffington Post reports.
Democrats ultimately came up short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and end the Republicans' filibuster, with a final vote count of 58 to 40. Republican Sens. Mike Johanns (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in their failed effort to end debate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted present.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it was "tragic" that Senate Republicans decided to filibuster a "qualified nominee."
"It's really unfortunate," Reid said on the Senate floor.
A White House administration official expressed confidence that Hagel's nomination would be confirmed shortly.
"Senator Hagel is going to be confirmed, if not tomorrow then when the Senate returns from recess," the official told The Huffington Post.
Republicans insisted they were waiting on requests for more answers on Hagel's finances, as well as specific intelligence on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The White House said it sent a letter that answered all of their questions, but GOP senators maintained they needed more time and would be ready to proceed with an up-or-down vote when the Senate reconvenes after recess.
"We haven't had much of a debate -- people outside the committee," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters. "So we feel like when we come back next week after the break, unless there's some bombshell, I'd be ready to move on to vote."
Reid decried the outcome immediately after the vote Thursday evening, emphasizing the need to relieve outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta of his obligations and confirm Hagel at a time when the country continues to face military challenges.
"There is nothing going to change in the next 10 days about the qualifications of Chuck Hagel," Reid said.