Chuck Hagel will not be defense secretary this week.
The Republican filibuster proving unbreakable, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) moved up a now symbolic cloture vote to be held at 4:15 on Thursday. Three Republicans said they would ultimately vote to allow a final vote on Hagel’s nomination, but not until after next week’s recess.
“That’s too bad,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who called the delay “a mistake.”
As a result, next week Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers to discuss the Afghanistan war drawdown, instead of Hagel as the White House had hoped.
The Senate has started what will amount to roughly one hour of debate on Hagel’s nomination before Reid’s cloture vote is due. Reid had threatened to keep the Senate in session into the holiday weekend. Moving the vote to Thursday afternoon could allow for senators and their staffs to begin heading home on Friday.