With 25 Republican senators signing on to a letter circulated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) requesting a delay in the hearing vote previously scheduled for Thursday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to postpone the vote, in a surprising last minute setback to the Hagel confirmation. The letter in its entirely is here.
It is noteworthy that the senators include Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who previously said they would not filibuster Hagel’s nomination. However, the letter states flatly that unless the required data is provided a vote “should not occur.”
What is unclear is whether this is a somewhat choreographed maneuver whereby the White House, the Senate and Hagel can all end this. Not unlike Harriet Miers, whose nomination to the Supreme Court ended when the White House could not provide documents covered under executive privilege, this gives all sides a chance to end what has been a disastrous nomination.
In the short term this provides Republican opponents more time to secure opposition. From the administration’s point of view, it must endure another round of Sunday shows, forcing its allies to defend an indefensible nominee and affording opponents to make the case against him.