The costs of the GOP's Chuck Hagel filibuster

Republicans managed to make history, blocking a Cabinet nominee with majority support. What's the damage?

Republican senators contend that blocking Hagel's confirmation isn't purely political.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Well, they did it: Thursday evening, Senate Republicans staged what amounts to the first-ever successful filibuster of a presidential Cabinet nominee, mustering enough votes to leave Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel — himself a former Senate Republican — one aye short of confirmation. Four Republicans voted with all 55 members of the Democratic caucus to proceed to an up-or-down vote that Hagel is sure to win — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote to "no" at the end, a procedural move that will allow him to bring up the vote after the upcoming recess. But President Obama, Hagel, the Pentagon, and outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now have to wait at least 10 days until Senate Democrats get another shot at ratifying a new defense chief.

David Weigel at Slate, who has been a tireless guide through the labyrinthine Hagelian drama, argues pretty persuasively that everybody (but Hagel himself) won something in Thursday night's vote. The anti-Hagelian "troika of the Washington Free Beacon,, and Jennifer Rubin," for example, have gained at least 10 more days to dig up (or invent) a disqualifying skeleton in Hagel's closet. But while Republicans successfully "humiliated the administration, yet again," and "humbled" Hagel, whom most Republicans have grown to dislike, they've also become "villains on a vote they'll eventually lose." So, let's count the costs — to the GOP, the nation, and the military — of the GOP's filibuster of Chuck Hagel:

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.