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“In the history of the Senate, no cabinet nominee of the president has been denied his or her seat because of filibuster,” said Alexander, who added he is withholding judgment until he meets with Hagel.
No senator has threatened an outright filibuster, but opposition to Hagel’s nomination remains high in the days following his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing. On Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called on President Barack Obama to “reconsider” Hagel’s nomination amid concerns that he had been too soft on Iran.
“Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times,” he said in a written statement. “What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for secretary of Defense seems clueless about what our policy is?”
The consensus among leadership aides is that if a filibuster does happen, it likely will be staged by a junior member.
One possibility is freshman Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who made clear at the hearing last week that he expects Hagel to provide the committee with additional transcripts from speeches, as well as more detailed financial disclosures. Cruz would not comment Monday night.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is another possibility to block Hagel’s nomination, a GOP aide said. A Lee spokeswoman said Tuesday that the senator has not decided whether he plans to try to block the vote on Hagel.
Emily Cadei contributed to this report.