Senate Republicans temporarily block vote on Chuck Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense



Chuck Hagel was sworn in as the new secretary of defense on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.


Junko Kimura

Senate Republicans temporarily blocked a vote to nominate Chuck Hagel as defense secretary Thursday afternoon.

Democrats tried ending debate on the nomination and forcing a vote but came up two votes shy of the 60 needed, The Associated Press reported.

It is the first filibuster against a defense secretary nomination, a post usually filled with strong bipartisan support, The New York Times reported.

Hagel's nomination will get another vote the week of Feb. 25, according to Politico.

Earlier on Thursday, Sen. John McCain said he was satisfied with the White House's response to questions on Benghazi posed by him and other senators, and would negotiate the filibuster of Hagel's confirmation.

"I think it was an adequate response, yes," McCain said about Benghazi, according to CNN. "We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done."

McCain said the Senate would still need responses to questions on Hagel's finances before breaking the filibuster.

"We are working on trying to get a path forward to try to have the questions answered and the vote and Hagel getting his vote."

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid earlier accused Republicans of trying to delay President Barack Obama's pick for Secretary of Defense.

Reid said by delaying Hagel's confirmation vote, they were endangering the nation's security, Reuters reported.

"For the sake of our national security it is time for us to put aside political theater," Reid said.

Hagel would replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, if confirmed.

Hagel is a former Republican senator from Nebraska backed by the White House and has strong Democratic support.

Democrats, who control 55 out of 100 Senate seats, need 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster and it's unclear if they have the votes needed, the New York Times reported.

Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, who previously said they would not filibuster the nomination said they would block Hagel unless they got more information about the recent attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Times.

Reuters said the White House called the delay "unconscionable."