Republicans are filibustering Chuck Hagel’s nomination for secretary of defense, Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced Thursday.
The Senate will vote to end debate on Hagel’s nomination Friday morning, Reid said. Democrats need at least five Republicans to meet the 60-vote threshold required to end a filibuster, though it is unclear whether they have those votes in the bag. A GOP aide says “it’s pretty clear” Reid does not have the votes. No major cabinet appointee has ever been successfully filibustered.
Reid was visibly agitated as he made the announcement. “This isn’t a high school getting ready for a football game,” he huffed on the Senate floor. “There are serious consequences to this delay.”
He went on to denounce Republicans for their “shocking” and “outlandish” behavior, falsely claiming that the United States will be without a secretary of defense “in less than two hours,” when Leon Panetta formally leaves the post. In fact, Panetta said he would remain on duty until his successor is sworn in.
Reid also dismissed GOP requests for further information about the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi — a primary rationale for the filibuster — as “political theater,” and suggested Republicans were simply trying to placate the Tea Party. “Chuck Hagel had nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi,” Reid said. “It’s tragic they have decided to filibuster this qualified nominee.”