On Monday, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma spoke with NRO about the Chuck Hagel nomination. He said he’d like to postpone a final vote on the president’s nominee for a few days, because of the concerns of several senators. He never committed to a filibuster, only to work to postpone the floor vote for “as long as it takes.”
Inhofe’s comments, however, came early on Monday, hours before Senate majority leader Harry Reid scheduled the final vote for later this week. That timeline is critical, Inhofe aides say, since the whole point of his “postpone” effort was to get Reid to consider holding off, not to delay a planned vote.
But Inhofe’s “postpone” push still caught heat from lefty writers. Liberal bloggers lampooned him, and the New York Times editorial page called it a case study in “petty politics” and Senate “showboating.”
Inhofe aides say the Times and the other editorialists are overdoing it, since his prediction that it’d be a “long, long time” before Hagel was confirmed was more of an eleventh-hour wish, and not necessarily a political threat.
Moving forward, Inhofe accepts that the Hagel vote is happening, and he won’t filibuster or place a hold. (Reid, for his part, has said that he won’t honor holds.) At this point, Inhofe is simply asking the Senate to have a 60-vote threshold to confirm the nominee.
All of this is good news for Hagel. As Inhofe backs away from causing procedural headaches for Reid, the likelihood of his confirmation grows.