Isn’t this pushing a jinx? If Senate Republicans insist on having Hillary Clinton testify before allowing John Kerry’s confirmation to proceed, aren’t they risking a torn ACL or turf toe for the outgoing Secretary of State?
Clinton has pledged to remain in the job until Kerry is confirmed, which Obama said he was confident would happen “quickly.” The Senate is expected to take up Kerry’s nomination in early January, but multiple Republican senators have already said they won’t agree to a vote on Kerry’s nomination until Clinton testifies about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Illness and a concussion has prevented Clinton from appearing thus far.
Clinton promised to appear before Congress at one point, but the State Department backpedaled from that position quickly after it became public. State then said that Clinton couldn’t testify until after Congress received the report from the Accountability Review Board’s investigation into Benghazi, which they hinted Congress might not see for another 90 days — or possibly never see in its entirety. They got the ARB report last week, at which point State announced the resignations of four officials who never actually resigned at all. Accountability!
So yes, there are plenty of questions to ask Hillary Clinton about the “systemic failures” and “leadership and management deficiencies” that arose under her command at State, now that Congress has seen the report. There are plenty of questions to ask Hillary Clinton about the surreal resignation dodge of the past week. Asking those questions requires her presence, however, and it’s becoming clear that Hillary has no intention of submitting herself to those lines of inquiry in public. She and State are trying to run out the clock and leave John Kerry in position to deal with the aftermath.
The question is whether Senate Republicans can actually block Kerry’s nomination. Stalwarts like Mike Lee and Tim Scott will certainly give it a go, and Marco Rubio suggested that he might put a hold on it. John McCain and Lindsey Graham may not go along with obstruction for very long, for collegial reasons concerning Kerry and Hillary as well as for “comity,” but they may come along for a little while. Harry Reid can move the question with 60 votes, which means that he only needs 5 Republicans to agree to a floor vote to break the impasse. I’d be surprised if he can’t find them, after a short period of time in which the Senate Republicans can make their objection known.