GOP Effort To Block Hagel Nomination Fading Away
It may have been able to prevent a vote on the merits last week, but the Republican led effort to block Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense seems to fading away fairly quickly:
Two of the most outspoken Republican critics of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense indicated Sunday that they would no longer hold up his Senate confirmation.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on Fox News Sunday that he would stand aside because Mr. Hagel had disavowed comments that he was said to have made during a talk at Rutgers University in 2007 that the State Department was an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.
“I got a letter back from Senator Hagel in response to my question, ‘Did you say that, and do you believe that?’ And the letter said he did not recall saying that,” Mr. Graham said. “He disavows that statement.”
Mr. Graham, one of the most vociferous and persistent critics of Mr. Hagel’s nomination, added, “I’ll just take him at his word unless something new comes along.”
Although Mr. Graham said he would no longer try to block the nomination, he was far from giving it an emphatic endorsement, calling Mr. Hagel “one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a very long time.”
Those comments were echoed, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a close friend of Mr. Graham and a public opponent of Mr. Hagel’s nomination.
“I don’t believe he is qualified,” Mr. McCain said. “But I don’t believe that we should hold up his nomination any further because I think it’s a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered.”
Mr. Graham and Mr. McCain were among a majority of Republicans in the Senate who backed a filibuster on Thursday when Mr. Hagel’s nomination came to a vote. Despite four Republicans’ crossing over to vote with the majority Democrats, the nomination fell one vote short of passing an up-or-down floor vote.
That unprecedented move forced the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, to set up another vote on Feb. 26. With Democratic control of the Senate, Mr. Hagel is expected to win confirmation whenever his nomination comes up for a vote.
Without Graham and McCain, there’s no way for the GOP to successfully block Hagel’s nomination and it’s quite obvious that he’ll be confirmed, albeit with a ssubstantial GOP opposition, when the Senate reconvenes next week. While this is happening, though, there are some on the right who continue to embrace the delusion that they are somehow going to be able to stop Hagel in the short amount of time left. With Graham and McCain now folding in the towel, though, it’s clear that this is no longer possible.