Senate Republicans took the rare step on Wednesday and blocked a vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense — the first filibuster against a president’s choice to lead the Pentagon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on the Senate floor that he could not reach agreement with Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, to avoid the filibuster, The Los Angeles Times
Reid, a Democrat, called the move “a shame,” The Times reports.
Democrats will need at least five GOP legislators to join the 55 other Democrats and independents who support Hagel, the Times reports.
Inhofe rejected the idea that the GOP move was “unusual,” or that it even was a filibuster, The senator blamed the Obama White House, saying it had not responded to various Republican inquiries.
“I don't remember one time when information that was requested that was perfectly within the purview of our interest in the confirmation was denied,” he told The Times. “This is the part that is unprecedented.”
Only two previous Cabinet appointments have been filibustered, The Times reports.
In 1987, C. William Verity, President Ronald Reagan's choice for Commerce Secretary, faced a filibuster by conservative Republicans, who said he was too soft on trade relations with the Soviet Union.
And in 2006, Dirk Kempthorne, President George W. Bush’s nominee for the Interior Department, faced a brief delay by Democratic senators who objected to government policies on oil drilling.
Both were later confirmed easily, The Times reports.
Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska, has outraged many GOP colleagues for opposing Bush's policies during the Iraq war. Others say he has been too critical of Israel, whole not as much toward Iran, The Times reports.
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