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Date published: 2/5/2013
WASHINGTON--Republican Sen. John McCain, a sharp critic of Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary, said Monday he will not support a filibuster of President Barack Obama's pick, even though he declined to say whether he intends to vote for confirmation.
"I do not believe a filibuster is appropriate and I would oppose such a move," McCain told reporters Monday, two days after Senate Republican leader Mitch
In the fiercest exchange of Hagel's confirmation hearing last week, McCain questioned the nominee about the Iraq War and whether he was right or wrong in opposing an additional 30,000 U.S. troops in 2007. The Arizona senator said he still has questions on the nomination and "was not happy with his (Hagel's) failure to answer a really simple question."
But McCain insisted he would not support use of the filibuster, a procedural tactic which can derail a confirmation vote and which can be stopped only by the votes of 60 of the 100 senators.
Several other Republican senators echoed McCain about a step that would be historic on a Cabinet choice. Nominees facing stiff opposition or serious ethical questions typically have withdrawn before any vote. The last nominee to be defeated was John Tower, President George H.W. Bush's choice for defense secretary who failed on a 53-47 vote in 1989 amid accusations of drinking and womanizing.
"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 interview this past weekend, McConnell gave Hagel a poor grade for his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said opposition to the former Republican senator leading the Pentagon was growing.
"Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet," the Kentucky senator, who is seeking re-election, said Saturday at the opening of his campaign headquarters in Louisville.