The Senate Armed Services Committee today voted to move Chuck Hagel’s nomination to become Secretary of Defense to the full Senate on Tuesday afternoon with a vote of 14 to 11, with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) yet to vote, split down party lines.
“Senator Hagel has received broad support from an array of senior statesmen and foreign policy dignitaries,” Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said before the vote. Levin continued to list the impressive array of endorsements that Hagel has received, noting the long-list of positions Hagel holds that stand firmly in the mainstream.
A vote on the floor of the Senate could come as soon as tomorrow, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Reid today announced that he would not honor holds — informal filibuster threats placed by individual Senators — from the GOP, forcing them to actually filibuster the nomination to prevent it from coming to a vote.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has already pledged to lead the charge in a filibuster, the first against a Defense Secretary nominee, once the nomination hits the Senate floor. Inhofe, during the discussion before the vote, cited how pleased he was that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) displayed his misleading evidence during Hagel’s testimony. Cruz and Inhofe also implied during the hearing that Hagel has taken money from Saudi and possibly other foreign governments, an argument without proof that found itself harshly challenged.
Inhofe’s plan is unlikely to succeed, though. Several GOP members have already pledged to either vote for Hagel — such as Sen. Thad Chochran (R-MS) — or oppose a filibuster — like Hagel opponent Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — making the odds of Republicans mustering the 41 votes necessary to prevent cloture on the debate unlikely. While a movement is growing to have a sixty vote threshold for Hagel that is somehow not a filibuster, Hagel has more than enough votes on his side to easily clear the majority required for final confirmation.
Neocons and their allies have been attacking Hagel since weeks before its official announcement. In their desperation in recent weeks, Republicans are throwing everything they can at the nominee, in hopes of derailing him. Instead, their efforts are proving ineffective at best, damaging to their own party at worst.