News / USA

Senate Republicans Block Vote on Hagel

Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill, Jan. 31, 2013.
Republican Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill, Jan. 31, 2013.
Michael Bowman
Senate Republicans have blocked a confirmation vote on President Barack Obama’s pick for U.S. defense secretary, former senator Chuck Hagel. The move effectively suspends consideration of the nominee for more than a week, and deepens controversy surrounding the president’s choice to lead the Pentagon.
 
This past Tuesday, Chuck Hagel received no votes of support from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee. On Thursday, all but four Senate Republicans voted against ending debate in the chamber, dashing Democratic hopes for a swift final vote on the nomination.

Hagel would replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The Senate will be in recess next week, and Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said another vote will be held when the chamber reconvenes. But Reid said the delay in confirming Hagel imperils the nation.

“No one knows what foreign challenge will face this country - perhaps - within the next 10 days.  And it would be nice if we had a secretary of defense,” Reid said.

Secretary Panetta will retain the title until a successor is confirmed. Nevertheless, the White House issued a statement describing the delay as a “waste of time” that is “not without consequence.”

Republicans say they need more information from Hagel about his past statements and activities, and more time to consider his nomination.

“There are still questions outstanding. I believe senators have the right to have those questions answered,” said Senator John McCain said.

McCain and other Republicans say they will vote to proceed to a final vote after the Senate recess. But McCain says he does not support Chuck Hagel for defense secretary.

“Senator Hagel is an honorable man. However, his positions on the principal national security issues facing our country, the Iranian nuclear program, resurgent Islamist terror threat in North Africa and the Middle East, and more broadly, whether we should maintain our ability to project strength in defense of our interests and allies indicate a disqualifying lack of professional judgment,” McCain said.

“Chuck Hagel volunteered and enlisted in the United States Army during the Vietnam era.  He was involved directly in combat, was given the Purple Heart [military award] for his service.  So does Chuck hagel know what it takes to be a soldier?  Does he know what it takes to lead the Department of Defense?  He certainly does,” said Senator Richard Durbin.

Democrats add that using a procedural maneuver to block a vote on a defense secretary is unprecedented. Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“Republicans have made an unfortunate choice to ratchet up the level of obstruction here in Washington. Just when you thought things could not get worse, it gets worse,” Reid said.

Hagel has made controversial statements about Israel, and at his confirmation hearing misspoke about U.S. policy regarding Iran's nuclear program. Political analyst Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says there is more to the drama surrounding Hagel.

“What is really going on here, in part, is that Hagel himself was a Republican senator who basically turned on the party over the war in Iraq and ended up favoring Barack Obama.  Obviously the Republicans are doing damage to Hagel, as well as, I suspect, to themselves and the country,” Mann said.

While a three-fifth vote is required to end debate, only a simple majority is required to confirm a nominee. If Republicans hold true to their word and allow a final vote after the recess, Hagel’s confirmation would be all-but-assured in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid