Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Senate Republicans will force Democrats to come up with 60 votes to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
A senior U.S. Senate Republican says his party intends to force Democratic leaders to come up with 60 votes to confirm Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary.
“We are planning a 60-vote threshold” on the chamber floor later this week, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told Defense News on Tuesday morning.
Inhofe and other Senate Republicans oppose Hagel because of his past comments and actions concerning Israel, Iran and the use of U.S. military force. They say he is not suited to become defense secretary.
Senate Republicans have threatened to mount a filibuster once the nomination hits the Senate floor Wednesday or Thursday. The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on the nomination later Tuesday.
Inhofe said he expects a party line committee vote. Democrats have 14 seats on SASC, and Republicans have 12.
It is unclear whether Democrats can get to the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster threat. Only two Senate Republicans have announced whether they will vote for Hagel.
There are 55 Democrats in the Senate and 45 Republicans. That means Hagel’s magic number is three, where it has been stuck for more than a week.