Chuck Hagel Won't Withdraw Despite High Chance of Nomination Defeat

Katie Pavlich

2/14/2013 12:29:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary is looking pretty grim as Senator Harry Reid desperately tries to cobble together 60 votes for his confirmation as a possible Republican filibuster looms.

Senate Republicans are following through on their threat to filibuster former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday morning.

"It is tragic that they have decided to filibuster this qualified nominee," said Reid. "It is really unfortunate."

The significance of Reid's announcement wasn't immediately clear, as he gave no indication as to whether or not Democrats had the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster attempt. It was only after Reid finished speaking that a Democratic Senate aide confirmed that the majority leader doesn't yet have the votes to overcome a Hagel filibuster.

It was assumed that many Republicans would vote against Hagel but allow his nomination to come to an up-or-down vote. Reid said that blocking Hagel through procedural means would be unprecedented.

Despite the possibility of Hagel's nomination going down in flames, he's not backing down and a top aide told the National Journal he has no plans to withdraw.

“He’s not withdrawing,” says Aaron Dowd, a spokesman for the former Nebraska senator. “He could be defeated, but he’s not withdrawing. It’s not something anyone is discussing.”

Meanwhile, the White House wants the Hagel vote to proceed which could prove to be very embarrassing.

The White House denounced a possible filibuster of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel on Thursday and demanded a confirmation vote this week, saying the nation and the world need a leader in the Pentagon as soon as possible.

"These delaying tactics are unconscionable and they should end right away," said White House spokesman Joshua Earnest.