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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid