Am Liking Senator Johanns More + More Each Day; @ SOD Hagel: Please Do Not Offer to Resign as America Needs You; We’re Sick of the Military-Industrial Complex Always Getting its Way

February 14, 2013

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PUBLISHED THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2013 AT 11:23 AM / UPDATED AT 12:12 PM

Johanns calls out GOP for holding up Hagel vote
By Joseph Morton
WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., called out his fellow Senate Republicans on Thursday for claiming that they aren’t technically filibustering as they try to hold up Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary.

“It’s a filibuster,” Johanns said. “If the Democrats were doing this, we would be hollering that this was a filibuster.”

Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska, has taken fire from his one-time colleagues and fellow Republicans over his past statements and positions on Iran, Israel and various other matters.

The Senate’s top Democrat attacked Republican senators Thursday for blocking a final vote on Hagel’s nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next secretary of defense, saying it was “shocking” and “tragic” that the GOP would attempt such a move at a time when the U.S. military is engaged in so many places around the world.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the Republican filibuster unprecedented.

“Not a single nominee for secretary of defense ever in the history of our country has been filibustered,” Reid said. “Never, ever.”

Reid said Republicans notified him Wednesday night they would withhold the votes needed to advance Hagel’s nomination.
Republicans have objected to Reid’s characterization.

“This is not a filibuster,” Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Wednesday.

Inhofe had suggested senators would allow a vote to proceed as soon as they received the information they were seeking, including additional financial disclosures from Hagel. Democrats have said those requests go far beyond what is required for nominees.

Republican objections mean Hagel’s nomination must clear a procedural vote with the backing of at least 60 senators. If Hagel clears that hurdle, he will need only 50 votes to ensure his confirmation, and 55 senators vote with the Democrats.

Johanns strongly disagreed with Inhofe’s position during his weekly conference call with reporters. A 60-vote threshold — that’s a filibuster, Johanns said.

“It is what it is,” Johanns said. “My hope is that whatever issues are out there, they can be resolved, we can move to a vote.”

Johanns said swift consideration of the nomination is necessary with Secretary Leon Panetta on his way out the door and a key conference next week with allies on the future of Afghanistan.

“I just think it’s important to have a secretary of defense in place,” Johanns said.

Johanns said he isn’t running around twisting arms to line up support for Hagel. If senators want to oppose the nomination, that’s fine. But the Senate should move forward to a vote, he said.

Asked about his colleagues’ objections to the nomination, Johanns noted Hagel’s penchant for blunt talk.

“Chuck Hagel is a provocative person who says provocative things and he has over the years,” Johanns said. “Some say ‘I admire his directness’; others say ‘his statements concern me about the Middle East.’ All of that has kind of created an atmosphere where Chuck is working for every single vote. And that’s just the reality of where he finds himself.”

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is one of those who oppose Hagel’s nomination.

Fischer had said Wednesday that she hadn’t made up her mind on this week’s procedural vote. She had said previously that she had no plans to filibuster Hagel.

Fischer expressed sympathy for those seeking the information and downplayed the harm of waiting a while longer.

“A delay until they get their information — that’s reasonable,” Fischer said.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

 

 

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