McCain might support Hagel filibuster

February 13, 2013

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has urged his fellow Republicans not to filibuster the nomination of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, now tells Foreign Policy magazine that he might oppose a vote to end debate on President Obama's choice to replace Leon Panetta.

Several Republicans told the magazine that the threshold for Hagel's confirmation would be 60 votes. But they said they were not filibustering the nomination, just placing holds on it. Hagel almost certainly has enough votes to overcome a filibuster; White House spokesman Jay Carney said again Wednesday that the administration expects the nominee to be confirmed. 

McCain said that his vote is dependent on whether he gets more information from the White House on the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya -- specifically, whether President Obama personally spoke to any officials in the Libyan government to request assistance for American personnel in the country. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has threatened to place a hold on Hagel's nomination for the same reason.

McCain "not out there saying we need to stop the nomination cold" spokesman Brian Rogers said. He still thinks "a filibuster is a bad precedent" for future Cabinet nominations.

"He believes that Sen. Hagel has fulfilled the disclosure requirements for secretary of defense. He just believes that Sen. Graham and others are entitled to an answer to a simple question," Rogers said. The senator "fully expects" to get an answer from the administration before the vote. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · February 13, 2013