GOP leader raises possibility of Hagel filibuster

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is raising the possibility of a filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.

In interview this past weekend, McConnell gave Hagel a poor grade for his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee several days ago.

The Senate Armed Services Committee could vote as early as Thursday on the nomination and refer it to the full Senate. Democrats hold a 14-12 edge on the panel.

McConnell said opposition to the former Republican senator leading the Pentagon was growing.

“Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet,” the Kentucky senator, who is seeking re-election, said Saturday at the opening of his campaign headquarters in Louisville.

Hagel seemed ill-prepared under withering cross-examination from Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans in nearly eight hours of testimony at his confirmation hearing last Thursday. He was repeatedly pressed about past statements and votes on Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons, with GOP lawmakers suggesting he wasn’t sufficiently supportive of Israel or anti-Iran.

Senate Democrats, who hold the majority in the Senate, continue to stand behind the nomination, and no Democrat has said he or she would vote against the president’s pick for his second-term national security team. Hagel, 66, is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who served two terms as Nebraska senator.

About a dozen Republican have said they will oppose their former colleague and several others have indicated they are likely to vote no.

Democrats hold a 55-45 advantage in the Senate and two Republicans have announced their support for Hagel — Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Hagel’s home state of Nebraska. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the leadership, said he would oppose Hagel, but would not back a filibuster.

McConnell’s failure to rule out a filibuster marks the first time the leader has suggested it could be an option. In the past, when Republicans occupied the White House, GOP senators have argued strenuously that nominees should get an up-or-down Senate vote, especially Cabinet picks.

Last Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration would be “stunned if, in the end, Republican senators choose to try to block the nomination of a decorated war veteran who was once among their colleagues in the Senate as a Republican.”

The White House insisted on Monday that the president stands behind the nominee.

“The issue here is `how will an individual do the job,’ and there’s no question in the president’s mind that Sen. Hagel will do the job well,” Carney said aboard Air Force One.

More in Local News

Waiting lists and growing demand for low-income preschools

There will be 1,000 more spots opening in the state next school year — far fewer than needed.

Snohomish County PUD general manager and CEO to retire

Craig Collar, 54, who will return to Montana, joined the utility as a senior manager in 2006.

Jensen Webster sorts through food stuffs at the Sultan High School in Sultan on March 14, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Sultan school children take charge to help their peers

The Sky Valley Youth Coalition has installed pantries at schools so kids can take food home.

Cougs beat Dawgs — and the Hawks

WSU boasts the No. 1 specialty license plate, and the money that comes with it.

Police seek female suspect in north Everett burglaries

She’s suspected of being an accomplice to a man who has committed five other burglaries.

North Machias Road bridge down to one lane until fixes made

A bridge south of Lake Stevens remains at one lane of travel… Continue reading

Everett woman found dead identified as 21-year-old

There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body of Brianna Leigh Nyer.

Ivar’s in Mukilteo closes for disinfection after illnesses

The Snohomish Health District said it’s not certain what caused some patrons to get sick.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
It’s the water: Lynnwood’s artesian well draws fans from miles around

True believers have been flocking for decades to the last well flowing in the Alderwood district.

Most Read