Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, tells National Review Online that he will “postpone” the nomination of Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense.
“I’ll do that for as long as it takes,” he says, firmly. “I’m going to make sure there is a 60-vote margin.”
“Hagel may be passed out of the committee, but it’s going to be a long, long time before he hits the floor,” Inhofe says. “We’re going to need as much time as possible, and there are going to be several of us who will have holds.”
“Each day that goes by will make it more difficult for Democrats who say they are pro-Israel to hold out,” Inhofe explains. “I want everyone to be very clear about his past statements and his positions.”
Inhofe says he will not block Hagel’s committee vote on Tuesday. Instead, he will focus entirely on an extended floor fight over the final confirmation. “He’s definitely going to make it out of the committee,” he predicts.
The Oklahoma senator, who has been one of Hagel’s fiercest critics, says that he will not walk out of the committee vote, as some have rumored.
Inhofe’s main concern remains Hagel’s position on Israel. “The anti-Israel history of Chuck Hagel is real,” he says. “We can’t have someone at the Pentagon who has made these kind of statements.”
Hagel’s financial-disclosure issues, he adds, are not central to why he’s working to postpone the nomination. “That doesn’t bother me,” he says. “To me, that’s minor.”