Major news from Major “Shirty Business” Garrett:
I am reliably informed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will soon announce backing Chuck Hage. WH and Hagel backers believe they have 60 votes.
— Major Garrett(@MajorCBS) February 12, 2013
Remember, to date, not a single Senate Democrat has said he/she will oppose Hagel. That’s 55 votes in the bank. Thad Cochran is 56 and Collins would be 57. Murkowski’s a safe bet in situations like this to err on the side of bipartisanship, so that’s 58. All O needs is two more to bust the filibuster and he’s got a variety of centrist Republicans who can give it to him — Coats, Chambliss, Corker, Heller, Kirk, and so forth. Even the hardline anti-Hagel crew is sounding more fatalistic about his nomination. Two days ago, Lindsey Graham threatened to hold up the confirmation vote until he gets more info on Benghazi from the White House. Two days later, he’s saying things like this:
Graham on Hagel: I’m not inclined to filibuster anyone forever…
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 12, 2013
The hope last week was that by delaying the vote, the GOP might force Obama or Carl Levin or Hagel himself to reflect on the fact that a guy who can’t state the White House’s Iran policy without help, after weeks of preparation, might be out of his depth leading the world’s greatest military. No dice: Hagel’s brother claimed yesterday he’s more resolved than ever to stick with this while a White House spokesman said, “We are absolutely committed to the Hagel nomination.” This guy’s not going to be shamed into quitting; if he had any shame to start with, he wouldn’t have lied his ass off at the hearing about his true feelings on the “Jewish lobby” in hopes of getting confirmed. And lest you doubt that the Democrats mean business in pushing him through, here’s the latest from Reid:
Reid says he will not honor any holds placed on Hagel’s nomination
— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) February 12, 2013
Democrats control the Armed Services Committee, which is planning to vote on the nomination today, so Hagel’s bound to pass that without a hitch. That means it’s all down to a GOP filibuster, with Jim Inhofe promising to delay a floor vote for as long as it takes — which might not be long, if in fact those 60 votes are already there. As a gloss on what happens when you nominate a guy who’s not well regarded inside the Pentagon, read Walter Pincus’s memoir of Les Aspin’s debut as SecDef in 1993. The respect of one’s subordinates, especially in a hierarchy like the military’s, is important needless to say. What kind of respect will Hagel have going in there transparently as a Republican catspaw for Obama’s defense-cutting agenda?
Update: On to the floor vote. The Armed Services Committee approved him, 14-11, as expected. Party-line vote.