- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Democrats pressed ahead Wednesday with Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, scheduling a showdown vote for Friday even as top Republicans signaled that they need more information before confirming him for the Pentagon’s top civilian post.

He is one of several top administration nominees facing roadblocks as Republicans demand to know more from President Obama on various topics, such as the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and threaten to hold up his appointments as leverage.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, said Wednesday that he would hold up Mr. Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John O. Brennan, until the White House releases more information about the secret drone execution program.

Democrats bristled at the delay over Mr. Hagel, accusing the Republicans of unprecedented obstructions.

“This is the first time in the history of our country that a presidential nominee for secretary of defense has been filibustered,” Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “What a shame. But that’s the way it is.”

**FILE** Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Feb. 12, 2013, prior to President Obama's State of the Union address. (Associated Press)
**FILE** Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters ... more >

Republicans said Mr. Reid was rushing Mr. Hagel’s nomination through the chamber and that there is a long history of filibustering nominations as a way to try to pry information loose.

“We haven’t gotten the information that we want,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Hagel, a former Republican senator whom Mr. Obama tapped to be his independent voice at the Defense Department, will need to muster 60 votes Friday or else his confirmation will be delayed until later this month.

He suffered through a rocky confirmation hearing two weeks ago, and Republicans said he has not disclosed all of the foreign clients for whom he has worked in the four years since he left the Senate.

Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, made a plea for that information, wondering at Tuesday’s committee meeting whether Mr. Hagel might have taken money from governments that aren’t friendly to the U.S.

“We do not know, for example if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme or radical groups,” he said Tuesday.

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said he needs more time to pore over Mr. Hagel’s recent speeches.

Sen. John McCain, an influential Republican from Arizona, signaled Wednesday that he is among those seeking more answers from Mr. Obama about the White House’s response to the attack in Benghazi.

“I’m looking for an answer,” Mr. McCain said, specifically on “where the president was that night and what he did.”

Mr. McCain would not disclose whether he plans to block a vote on the nomination if Mr. Obama does not supply the information he wants.

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