WASHINGTON - Now that the implementation of a filibuster – a procedural tactic in which hearings can be extended indefinitely – seems unlikely, it appears that President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary will achieve majority support in the Senate.
"I do not believe a filibuster is appropriate, and I would oppose such a move," McCain, a 2008 presidential candidate, said Monday, two days after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell raised the possibility of forcing a showdown vote.
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This follows a fierce exchange between McCain and Hagel at the confirmation hearing last week. McCain, who opposes the Hagel nomination due to his lack of support for the US presence in Iraq, questioned the nominee about the war, asking whether he was right or wrong in opposing an additional 30,000 US troops in 2007.
The Arizona senator said he still has questions on the nomination and "was not happy with (Hagel's) failure to answer a really simple question."
But McCain said he would not support use of the filibuster, which can derail a confirmation vote and can be stopped only by the votes of 60 of the 100 senators. McCain’s support gives backing to three other Republican senators who have voiced opposition to the move.
Thus, it appears that the Senate’s Democratic majority of 55, in addition to two other Republicans who have already stated their stance against the filibuster, ensures Hagel's appointment as the next secretary of defense.
Several other Republican senators echoed McCain's sentiments.
"It would be unprecedented for the Senate not to allow an up-or-down vote on a president's Cabinet nomination, but I haven't made any decision about a vote," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was "not inclined to support a filibuster regardless of my ultimate decision" on the nominee.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who opposes Hagel's nomination, said he would not support a filibuster.
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who suggested the administration re-evaluate its choice, said "filibustering is something I do very reluctantly."
In the last few days, there were reports of great disappointment with the performance of Hagel at the senate hearing, and of the possibility that he would remove himself from candidacy.
However, now that it appears that the opposition is not as great as expected among the Democrats, the next step is to bring the appointment to a vote – first among the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, and then within the general assembly.
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