A certain battle looms in Congress over confirming a new secretary of defense after Chuck Hagel announced that he would be stepping down amid conflicts within the administration, the Daily Beast reported.
As Republicans take over leadership in January, with a new caucus that is more conservative than before Hagel faced his own challenging confirmation, don't expect an easier roll for a future nominee, the Beast reported.
"The only difference between then and now is that they were the minority then and are the majority now, or soon. And not only are they going to be the majority — they are going to be a much more conservative caucus than they are now," wrote the Beast's special correspondent, Michael Tomasky. "Not enough attention has been focused on this fact. But go look at the list of the 11 new incoming GOP senators and Google around about them. With the lone exception of Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, they’re all in way-out land."
He adds: "So even if a nominee does clear Armed Services, there doesn’t exist the remotest guarantee that she or he can clear a cloture vote (60 yeas needed) in a Senate where the Democrats will have a mere 45 votes. Getting 15 Republicans to support cloture on any Democratic nominee is going to be tough."
Hagel resigned in frustration with the Obama administration and never fit in with the president's national security team, The New York Times noted
of his difficult two-year tenure.
Future nominees mentioned as a possible replacement, according to ABC News,
include Ashton Carter, a former deputy defense secretary; Michele Flournoy, the former under secretary of defense for policy and once the Pentagon's highest-ranking woman; and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who becomes the Senate Armed Services Committee's top Democrat in January.
It will be a busy job for the next secretary who must juggle not only issues over the department's budget, but contend with Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and what seems a growing power grab from Russia's Vladimir Putin.
For that reason, Hagel, who has agreed to stay on until his replacement is found, may be in the position for a while, the Beast contends, predicting a long battle ahead.
"If you think that this process is going to be 'above politics,' you’ve been paying pretty piss poor attention to the Republican definition of politics these last six years," the Beast's Tomasky suggests. "We could still be calling Hagel, 'Mr. Secretary' for a while yet."
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