Hagel Three-Step: Committee Vote; Floor Fight; Then Confirmation?

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
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The most-contested, so far, of President Obama's nominations for his second-term cabinet — that of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary — is due to be voted on this afternoon by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the committee will approve Hagel by a party-line 14-12 vote. That would send the nomination to the full Senate.

Then what?

Some Republicans, such as Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, have said they'll attempt to hold up a vote. They'll try to insist that 60 senators must first agree that there should be a vote on the nomination before there can be a vote. In other words, they'll demand a vote on whether to vote.

But The Associated Press notes that Democrats control 55 Senate seats (two are held by independents who caucus with the Democrats) and that:

"Two Republicans — Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Nebraska — have said they will vote for the nominee. At least five Republicans, including [Arizona Sen. John] McCain, have said they oppose a filibuster despite their reservations or opposition toward the nominee."

So, it would seem there's a fair chance the push to delay a vote won't work — at least not for long.

That could mean, The Atlantic Wire says, confirmation of Hagel by the full Senate as soon as Thursday.

We'll watch for news from today's committee vote.

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