When Senate Republicans blocked Chuck Hagel’s confirmation to be secretary of Defense this afternoon by voting against a cloture motion to end debate and move to a final vote, they insisted it was not a filibuster. “This is not a filibuster. I realize that’s the headline the majority leader would like the papers to write,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor while filibustering Hagel.
The cloture motion fell two votes short, securing only 58 of the 60 votes Democrats needed to break the GOP obstruction. Republicans had 40 votes against cloture, and in the crazy rules of the Senate, that wins.
The hold or filibuster, or whatever Cornyn would call it, came as conservatives buzzed about a speech Hagel gave to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League (ADC) in 2007. Aconservative blog today claimed that Hagel suggested in the speech that Israel controlled the State Department. The former Republican senator has come under fire from Republicans for being critical of Israeli policy in the past and referring to the “Israel lobby,” so the State Department quote would be problematic, if true.
It turns out Hagel may have said no such thing, though he did talk of cooperation with Iran on Afghanistan, including the idea of reopening a consulate in the country, which may pose its own political problems.