The Senate Armed Services Committee voted earlier today to advance the nomination of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel. The vote fell along party lines, with the committee’s 14 Democrats backing the nomination and 11 Republicans opposing it. Senator David Vitter (R, La.), the twelfth GOP committee member, was not present for the vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to call for a floor vote on Hagel’s nomination on Thursday. According to Republican senator Jim Inhofe, Hagel won’t receive a simple up or down vote. Several GOP leaders have indicated that, though they won’t to filibuster the nomination, they will object to unanimous consent for a majority vote. That would require Reid to file for cloture, which requires 60 votes, before proceeding to a vote on the nomination.
Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, however, told Foreign Policy’s The Cable that he believes Hagel’s nomination will attract “more than 60 votes.”
Though Hagel was approved by the committee, today’s hearing was not without its rough spots for the former Nebraska senator. Senator John McCain blasted the rocky testimony Hagel delivered in his confirmation hearing as “the worst I have seen of any nominee for office.” Texas senator Ted Cruz argued that confirming Hagel would make war with Iran “substantially more likely” by encouraging the regime to continue its development of nuclear weapons.