Reid: Republicans blocking Hagel’s nomination

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday morning that that Republicans will filibuster the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, depriving Democrats of the 60 votes needed to end debate and hold an up-or-down vote.

"Senate Republicans have made it clear they intend to mount a full-scale filibuster, and block the Senate from holding a final passage vote on Senator Hagel's nomination," Reid said.

A Democratic leadership aide said they've been formally informed by Republicans that there will not be the 60 votes necessary to bring Hagel's nomination to a vote.

Reid has scheduled a cloture vote on Hagel's nomination for Friday morning.

But a GOP aide suggested that was still in question: "Why would Reid schedule a cloture vote if he didn’t expect to win?"

On the floor, Reid (inaccurately) warned that if Hagel is not confirmed tomorrow, we will have no secretary of defense.

"In less than two hours, our country will be without a secretary of defense," Reid said. "It's shocking that my Republican colleagues would leave the nation without a fully empowered secretary of defense."

However, the Pentagon says otherwise. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will "stay until Sen. Hagel is confirmed," a senior defense official said. Foreign Policy reports that Panetta leaving for California on Thursday and does not plan to come back to Washington, but he will still be the defense secretary.

Even so, Reid went on to say that NATO defense ministers are meeting next week in Brussels and that our defense secretary won't be there because "we won't have one if we don't get this thing done this week."

"There are serious consequences for this delay," he said.

Criticizing Republicans for demanding more information from Hagel and from the administration, Reid said: "This isn't a high school getting ready for a football game or some play that's being produced at a high school. We're trying to get someone to run the defense of our country." He called claims that Hagel had not been forthcoming "outlandish."

Conservative Republicans, he argued, were too concerned with tea party primary challenges.

"It is tragic that Republicans are planning to filibuster this nomination," Reid concluded. "It's really tragic."

The cloture motion was filed Wednesday afternoon.

Aaron Blake contributed to this report.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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Rachel Weiner · February 14, 2013

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