The Senate Armed Services Committee moved former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense through to the full Senate in a 14-11 party-line vote late Tuesday. Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter did not vote.
Prior to the vote, tensions spilled out in the committee hearing room when Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) allowed senators to give 8-minute speeches explaining their vote. Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) noted that Hagel had been praised by the Iranian regime and claimed that his confirmation would make “make military conflict in the next four years substantially more likely.” Cruz also cast doubt on the former senator’s willingness to submit all the relevant financial documents.
That led to a rebuke from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who questioned Cruz’s comments, saying he had “gone over the line” and “impugned the patriotism” of the nominee. Nelson was backed up by Levin, who noted that Hagel had fulfilled all requirements for financial documentation under longstanding committee rules.
All of this foreshadows the coming fight when the full Senate begins consideration of Hagel’s nomination on Wednesday. Several Republican senators–including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)–have threatened to filibuster or delay the nomination. That led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to say on the Senate floor that he will not honor any Republican holds placed on Hagel’s nomination.
On Tuesday’s show, in advance of the committee vote, Alex and the NOW panel discussed the GOP stalling tactics and what foreign policy challenges will await Hagel should he become the next Secretary of Defense.