Hagelís nomination fight has been one of the most contentious in recent memory.
President Barack Obama, who once fantasized about a dream Cabinet fashioned after Abraham Lincolnís ďTeam of Rivals,Ē now faces the less glamorous task of filling his second-term Cabinet.
And that process ó like so many other polarizing subjects in Washington these days ó has not been easy. Obamaís rumored first choice for secretary of State, United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice, withdrew her name from consideration after Republicans launched a campaign against her because of public comments she made in the aftermath of the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. And Obamaís selections for Defense, Treasury and the CIA have faced similar troubles as senators seek answers on everything from that terrorist attack to the classified drone program and the administrationís outlook for Medicare.
A successful filibuster of any Cabinet nominee would be the first in U.S. history, but senators do have a precedent of stalling nominees they find questionable until they get the answers they want or the nominee withdraws.
Not all of Obamaís picks face intense scrutiny, but even in the cases where his selections are not controversial, the job ahead for his appointees is far from simple.
Department of Defense: Chuck Hagel
Hagelís nomination fight has been one of the most contentious in recent memory, with Republicans still mulling whether they will force a time-consuming 60-vote threshold on his confirmation, even though it seems there would be enough votes to overcome such an attempted filibuster.
In recent days, Republicans opposed to Hagel sought to delay a vote in the Armed Services Committee in an attempt to strengthen their hand in the wake of Hagelís uneven performance before the panel last week. That effort paid off Wednesday when Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced the panelís review of the nomination was not yet complete.
Hagelís record as a two-term senator and past controversial remarks he made came under intense scrutiny at that confirmation hearing. Senators pressed him on statements in which he challenged the closeness of lawmakers to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, his position on Iranian sanctions, and negative comments he once made about openly gay people serving in the military. But GOP lawmakers also clearly had a beef to settle over Hagelís opposition to certain policies in Iraq advocated by President George W. Bush, such as the surge in troops.
Hagel is still likely to be confirmed, but with the recent media focus on national security policy and programs such as Obamaís drone program, there is sure to be more airing of grievances. If a GOP senator attempts to filibuster Hagelís nomination, Democrats may need only five Republican votes to beat it back. That appears doable, even if those five turn around and vote against Hagelís actual confirmation.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.