The Senate was set to vote at 4:15 on Thursday afternoon to end debate over the nomination of Chuck Hagel — a vote that appeared likely to fail, but which Democratic leaders wanted in order to try to cast Republicans as obstructionist.
Hagel’s path to the Pentagon struck a major roadblock on Thursday when Senate Democrats appeared short of the 60 votes needed to move forward, throwing the nomination into limbo as Congress prepared to skip town for a weeklong recess.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor that Republicans were blocking Hagel over their demands that he and the White House give more information about Hagel’s background and the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks. As the day progressed, some Republicans said they would be willing to let the process go forward, but only after next week’s break.
“This is premature,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) “Senators have questions that they want answered. Now, after the recess, I think, would be sufficient time to give senators the chance to consider their questions and I would vote for cloture because I believe Cabinet members deserve an up-or-down vote.”