WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans successfully moved Thursday to block the nomination of Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, with Democrats falling just one vote shy of the 60 needed to end a rare filibuster for a Cabinet choice.
Four Republicans joined with all of the Senate Democrats in voting to proceed to a final vote on the former Nebraska senator’s candidacy for Defense secretary. Another Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, voted “present” – ensuring that further consideration will be delayed until after a weeklong recess.
The final vote was 58-40, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switching to a no vote just before it closed, which will allow him to bring the motion up for reconsideration.
A visibly angry Reid, speaking on the Senate floor afterward, said he was “not going to give up” on the effort to confirm Hagel and criticized the GOP for blocking him at a critical time.
“I hope, I really hope, that nothing happens in the next 10 days,” he said.
The current Defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, who was to fly from Washington to his home in California on Thursday as he ended his tenure, is expected to continue serving.