Last week, the GOP successfully blocked Chuck Hagel’s nomination for secretary of defense—essentially filibustering his confirmation, which will delay a vote by at least a week or so.
NBC News’ political reporter Kelly O’Donnell told Hardball last week that there were two lines of thought regarding the obstruction. For some Republicans, it was legitimately about getting more information about Hagel. For others, the filibuster was a tool to get more information about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
And there’s another reason the GOP is blocking Hagel: It’s about political survival. The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart recently suggested to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has been so outspoken against the nomination because he’s “petrified that he’s too moderate to win the Republican nomination for Senate in 2014 in South Carolina and so he’s desperately moving to the right.”
And yet, most political observers believe Hagel will eventually be confirmed. Here are a few signs that Hagel will still lead the Pentagon, filibuster or no.
1. McCain concedes
Republican Sen. John McCain, an outspoken critic of Hagel, is conceding that it’s likely his former colleague has enough votes to be confirmed. “I’m confident that Sen. Hagel will probably have the votes necessarily to be confirmed as secretary of defense,” the Arizona lawmaker told Meet the Press on Sunday. He insisted, however, that the GOP was “reasonable” to push the filibuster so they had more time to go over Hagel’s records.
2. Lindsey Graham pulls back
The South Carolina senator, who led the fight to block Hagel, now says he too will stop resisting. Graham told Fox News on Sunday that he received a letter from Hagel in which he said he “did not recall” an allegedly anti-Israel statement he made, and did not believe them. “I will just take him at his word unless something new comes along…I’m just glad he answered my question.” Graham said he still believed Hagel was “radical and unqualified.”
3. The White House is optimistic
The Obama Administration doesn’t believe the GOP obstruction will affect Hagel’s confirmation. “No, he’s not going to be a weaker defense secretary,” Obama’s chief of staff said Denis McDonough told NBC. “He’s going to be a great defense secretary.”
4. There’s been backlash against the filibuster
Hagel’s supporters have been quick to pounce, painting their GOP foes as unnecessarily trying to block the vote for politics’ sake. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has argued the move is “damaging to our national security.” Several other critics are declaring Ted Cruz’s innuendo war against Hagel is akin to McCarthyism. Their remarks certainly aren’t favorable for the GOPers trying to change their image of politics before people.
5. Democrats have already scheduled a vote
Senate Democrats have scheduled a confirmation vote for Feb. 26, a day after lawmakers return from their current break, suggesting they believe the next vote won’t be filibustered.