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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid