Thursday afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked a vote to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.
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.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement after the Senate’s decision to extend debate on Hagel’s nomination:
Today the Senate rightly voted to continue debate on Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination. There is no reason to rush his nomination to a vote until he has adequately responded to multiple requests from members of the Armed Services Committee for additional information.
Twenty-five senators have asked Senator Hagel to disclose the personal compensation that he has received the past five years, and twice he has flat-out refused regarding what he was paid in 2008, 2009, and 2010. This is within his direct control, and his refusal to comply with this reasonable request is troubling. Both Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton were asked similar questions, and given the vital importance of the Secretary of Defense to our national security, Sen. Hagel should not be held to a lesser standard.
Once Senator Hagel responds to these reasonable requests to disclose whether and to what extent he has any foreign financial conflicts of interest, I am confident that a bipartisan majority of the Senate will move forward to the timely consideration of the merits of his nomination.
One can only hope information will be made public that is so egregious, it will torpedo Hagel’s chances of being confirmed. Because it sounds like some Republican spineless wonders will be willing to vote for him after the break.