Will Dems’ Plan to Thwart the Not-a-Filibuster on Chuck Hagel Hold?

Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., leaves the office of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after the two met on Jan. 22. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Don’t call it a filibuster. Or, wait, maybe it actually is. Whatever one calls Senate GOP tactics, Senate Democratic leaders are again searching for five Republicans to vote with 55 Democrats Friday morning to end the not-a-filibuster-turned-filibuster and move to a final (simple majority) vote on Hagel’s nomination to become U.S. defense secretary.

More on Hagel’s most likely path to confirmation in a bit. First, here’s how I reported Inhofe’s not-a-filibuster comments last evening:

Inhofe took to the Senate floor Wednesday evening to state the GOP case for the party’s tactics.

GOP lawmakers simply want more information about potential sources of foreign funds Hagel received after leaving Congress. And some prominent ones want the White House to spell out which Cabinet and military officials President Barack Obama talked to during and after the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attack.

And he disputed that Republicans are filibustering anything. Inhofe says the chamber has held past nominees to 60-vote margins, just not ones up to run the Pentagon.

UPDATE: Reid said in a statement that GOP leaders say there are not five GOP defections the Democrats need to end what he says is now a “full-scale filibuster.” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., tells reporters the Senate will vote around 9 a.m. Friday to end debate. Call it Showdown Friday or Filibuster Friday.

Whatever one calls this, the not-a-filibuster, or full-scale filibuster, is designed to break the Obama administration’s will and ultimately kill the nomination.

Two GOP senators have said they will vote to confirm Hagel: Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Hagel’s own Nebraska. So, if they remain “yay” votes, by definition, they would vote with the Democrats to end debate and thwart the not-a-filibuster.

Though somewhat murky, according to my reporting and that of others, Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Orrin Hatch of Utah have signaled a filibuster — and Inhofe’s not-a-filibuster. But McCain seems to be fine with a longer delay of the kind favored by his closest Senate pals, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

If McCain defects, this could drag into the weekend — Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., tells me this morning that she’s prepared to stay in Washington through Sunday — or into late February. The Senate is in recess next week. In some ways, this is right back where it began: It’s all about Hagel’s old friend, John McCain, the Senate maverick. Check DefenseNews.com and Twitter for updates.


John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett