Republicans want more time, not more information, before allowing the Senate to vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.
A motion to end debate on Hagel failed Thursday, leading Majority Leader Harry Reid to criticize what he said was a filibuster. He'll call another "cloture" vote when the Senate returns from its break, and that motion is expected to pass.
"I'm going to go call Chuck Hagel when I'm finished here and say I'm sorry ... but we're not going to give up on you," Reid said on the floor after the vote.
That's as Republicans wanted it. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a powerful member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a heavyweight behind the GOP strategy on Hagel, said he would be prepared to allow a vote on the nomination to move forward after next week’s recess, assuming no bombshell is uncovered.
“I really think there is a coalescing around the idea that two days after committee is too soon for somebody this controversial,” Graham said. "We feel like when we come back next week, after the break, unless there is some bombshell, I’d be ready to move on to vote… It’s not unreasonable to use the break to evaluate – if you are not on the committee how you would vote."
Sen. John McCain took the same line, saying, “I will vote in favor of cloture when we get back."
Republicans have accused Democrats of moving too quickly on a nomination that generated significant questions and some controversy, especially after Hagel’s unimpressive appearance before Armed Services earlier this month.
Graham was clear earlier this week that he wanted to use the nomination to extract more information from the White House on its response to the Benghazi attack. And on Wednesday, the White House replied in a letter that addressed questions posed by Graham, McCain, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., about communication with Libyan authorities during the attack in Libya.
While Graham said the White House letter helped, other senators are still seeking information. That includes Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who asked for more detailed information about Hagel’s finances than a nominee is required to provide.