Senate Republicans blocked, at least temporarily by way of filibuster, the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to become Secretary of Defense. Democrats vowed to hold another vote after yet another congressional recess next week, but the nomination is temporarily stalled. The vote was 58 to 40.
The vote is a historic first. Never in the history of the United States has a nominee for Secretary of Defense — or any member of the President’s national security team — been blocked by a filibuster. The effort to require 60 votes and filibuster Hagel’s nomination was led by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
The vote was yet another unprecedented historic first during the presidency of the first Black President of the United States. From a Governor who waved her finger in the President’s face in front of cameras to a member of the House yelling “you lie” at the President during a televised joint speech to Congress, the never-before-seen moments during Obama’s presidency continue.
“It’s extremism,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) flatly. “This filibuster is inexcusable… this was a man [Hagel] when everyone was going to Canada — this was a man who said ‘pick me,’” McCaskill said referring to Hagel’s combat service.
“You don’t impune someone’s patriotism without evidence,” McCaskill said strongly during an interview on MSNBC about veiled accusations against Hagel by freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz during the nomination vote on Hagel in committee.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he would tell Hagel, “I’m sorry for the president, I’m sorry for the country, and I’m sorry for you. But we’re not going to give up.
Republicans claimed that Democrats were rushing the vote and they needed more time to consider Hagel. Hagel, a former member of the U.S. Senate, is a decorated former combat veterans who fought in Vietnam. The former Senator from Nebraska is the first combat veteran to be nominated for Secretary of Defense. A statement from the White House called the move a waste of time.
“We have 66,000 men and women deployed in Afghanistan, and we need our new Secretary of Defense to be a part of significant decisions about how we bring that war to a responsible end,” the statement said.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on Black members of Congress. She can be heard every Tuesday on the radio on The Earl Ingram Show at 4 p.m. EST. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment with USAToday.com and ABC News and holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Contact: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42