A split in the ranks of GOP senators is occurring over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense.
Senate Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is favoring a filibuster over the nomination, which would mean Hagel would have to get 60 votes, not 51, for approval of his nomination.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), however, is opposed to any attempt to filibuster Hagel’s confirmation, saying that he would vote to break a filibuster if McConnell attempts to block a vote on Hagel.
McCain’s position is reflective of past efforts to prevent use of the filibuster in confirmation hearings; in 2005, McCain led the “Gang of Fourteen” that came to an agreement to avoid filibusters of judicial nominees except in “extraordinary circumstances.”
Jay Carney, White house Spokesman, said that the White House would be “stunned if, in the end, Republican senators choose to try to block the nomination of a decorated war veteran who was once among their colleagues in the Senate as a Republican.”
McConnell has already lined up roughly a dozen Republican senators and a few Democrats to back his plan. Referring to Hagel’s nomination, he said, “Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet.”
The vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has a slim 14-12 Democratic majority, to pass Hagel’s nomination to the full Senate could come as early as Thursday.