Earlier reports that Republicans were planning on walking out on tomorrow’s confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel to become Secretary of Defense have proven to be a bust, according to information relayed to ThinkProgress.
On Sunday, Politico sourced “GOP aides” in reporting that some Republican members of the Senate Armed Services committee were “considering the possibility of walking out” during the procedure, rather than casting a vote. This morning, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) set the confirmation vote for Hagel at 2:30 PM Tuesday. Soon thereafter, The Hill reported that neither Ranking Member Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) nor Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had plans to join any walk-out.
Further questioning revealed no stomach for the GOP to walk out after all. Staffers reached in the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) hadn’t heard of the bid to walkout and were unable to confirm whether the Senator backed the proposal. However, a staffer in the office of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) — by no means a supporter of Hagel’s nomination bid — confirmed to ThinkProgress that there are no longer any Republicans who plan on walking out during tomorrow’s meeting.
The swift backtracking by the GOP highlights an unfortunate tendency of the media to eagerly report on whatever shifting reason that Hagel opponents cite as being true. Dave Weigel at Slate on Friday pointed out the widespread use of anonymous GOP staffers as the sourcing for their reports, refusing to even name an office connected with the informant, as a method to promote attacks on Hagel. The result is a sounding board in the media for an ever-widening array of charges against Hagel that Republicans hope to make stick.
The full text of McCain’s statement has been released:
With this in mind, I have examined the information and responses to Members’ questions that Senator Hagel has provided to the Committee, and I believe that he has fulfilled the rigorous requirements that the Committee demands of every Presidential nominee to be Secretary of Defense.