Will Hagel Make History?

Feb 15 2013 @ 12:21pm

Only if he isn’t eventually confirmed. Sarah Binder explains:

[T]here’s been a bit of confusion in the reporting about whether filibusters of Cabinet appointees are unprecedented. There appears to have been no successful filibusters of Cabinet appointees, even if there have been at least two unsuccessful filibusters against such nominees. (On two occasions, Cabinet appointees faced cloture votes when minority party senators placed holds on their nominations—William Verity in 1987 and Kempthorne in 2006. An EPA appointee has also faced cloture, but EPA is not technically cabinet-level, even if it is now Cabinet-status). Of course, there have been other Cabinet nominees who have withdrawn; presumably they withdrew, though, because they lacked even majority support for confirmation. Hagel’s situation will be unprecedented only if the filibuster succeeds in keeping him from securing a confirmation vote.

Jay Newton-Small provides more details:

Filibustering a cabinet nominee is rare: it’s only happened twice in Senate history. The first time was in 1987 when Ronald Reagan nominated C. William Verity to be Commerce Secretary. He eventually passed 84-11. And the second came when George W. Bush nominated former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne to be Secretary of the Interior in 2006. He was ultimately confirmed by voice vote – meaning no one opposed him. That said, more often Presidents withdraw a nominee who’s in trouble, as has happened 11 times in Senate history. Nine presidential nominees have been brought down by failed voted in the Senate, the last being John Tower, George H. W. Bush’s nominee to be Defense Secretary in 1989 by a vote of 47-53. Tower had an abysmal confirmation hearing, which lost him support.