Republicans block Obamas defence nominee
In a major rebuff to President Barack Obama, the Senate Republicans
stalled the confirmation process of his defence secretary nominee Chuck
Hagel, a former Republican senator, with a filibuster.
Obama's Democrats on Thursday failed to stop the rare filibuster against a
Cabinet nominee as they fell two short of the 60 votes needed to move
forward with the nomination despite the backing of four Republicans.
Fifty-eight voted to go ahead with the confirmation vote, while 40 voted
to hold it up. One Republican senator, Orrin Hatch, announced present,
while another senator David Vitter missed the vote.
In a bid to stall Hagel, who has run into strong opposition from the
pro-Israel lobby, Republicans have raised questions about his finances, as
well as White House's role during the terror attack on a US mission in
Benghazi, Libya that had become a major issue during the November
Republicans, however, signalled they're willing to allow the nomination to
proceed after its week-long recess, when only a simple majority of 51
votes are required to stop a filibuster.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin's office announced the Senate will take
up another vote to move forward on Hagel on February 26.
"I regret that Republican senators, except the valiant four, chose to
filibuster the nomination," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the
"Republicans have made an unfortunate choice to ratchet up the level of
destruction here in Washington. Just when you thought things couldn't get
worse, it gets worse."
The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill on Thursday stating that the
then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Libyan President Mohammed
Magariaf the same night as the attack.
President Obama, according to the letter, did not speak to the Libyan
president until the evening of the day following the violence.
To get the Hagel nomination rolling , Vice President Joe Biden also made
calls on Thursday to Republican senators, according to a senior Democratic
source cited by CNN.
Outgoing Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said he will remain in his
position until a defence nominee is "sworn into office".
Meanwhile, some questioned whether Hagel would withdraw his nomination.
But one senior administration official cited by CNN said that idea is
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