Senate Republicans took a questionable stand again yesterday as they successfully filibustered Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.
The GOP case against Hagel has some holes. It seems based more on heresay and glaring misrepresentations of Hagel’s record. Republicans in the chamber have tried to make Hagel as unfriendly to Israel. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took a quote made by Hagel when he was serving in the Senate completely out of context to make it appear that he was criticizing Israel and then later questioned his patriotism. Jay Bookman has some other examples of the rhetoric used by Republicans against Hagel during confirmation process in the Senate.
And in other cases, it’s a way to go after the White House, such is the case of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who recently said that he planned to hold up Hagel’s nomination until the Obama Administration answers questions about Benghazi.
Looking at the vote, it’s likely that Hagel will eventually be confirmed. Senate Democrats are techinically one vote shy of breaking the filibuster — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) switched his vote from “Yea” to “Nay” to reserve the right to bring the cloture motion up again, as is procedure in the chamber. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) voted “present,” which means that he didn’t want to stand in the way of the caucus sending a message to the White House.
There is also another angle about which Senate Republicans should be concerned. Party leaders from both sides of the chamber just reached an agreement on the filibuster, saving minority rights in the Senate. While Reid and many members of his caucus are wrong on the issue, Republicans have just poured more fuel on that fire.