Executive Sessionby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2013-02-14
REID. Madam President, at the request of the Republicans, I ask
unanimous consent that at 4:15 today, the Senate proceed to vote on the
motion to invoke cloture on the Hagel nomination; that the time until
4:15 be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. My
designee is Senator Levin.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Mr. LEVIN. Reserving the right to object, I will not object because of the assurances of my three friends from the other side of the aisle stating that they plan on voting for cloture. They obviously said they will not vote for cloture today, which is, I think, too bad because there has been more than enough time in the last 2 days to read the additional speeches that have been coming in.
The only argument that was raised beyond that, that I know of, has to do with a payment from an equity fund. That was received. It has been fully explained. It is a highly reputable fund that Senator Hagel was an adviser to, similar to many other very reputable people. So I think the continuation of what amounts to a filibuster, since 60-vote votes are required to end debate, is too bad when there is a Secretary of Defense who is leaving to go back to California, and we very much need to have our new Secretary of Defense in place, given the circumstances in this world.
We have a budget crisis in this country. Our sequester is confronting us. That sequester will have a damaging effect on the Defense Department, on the men and women in uniform, and on programs, the equipment, the training they need to be ready for any kind of a contingency.
So the delay in having a vote on cloture, to me, is a mistake, and we ought to approve the ending of the debate today so we can get on with the confirmation vote, which will be a majority vote. After there is a cloture vote, debate is finally ended in this body, the final passage of a bill or the vote on the nominee is a majority vote, not 60 votes. So I am hoping there will be 60 votes today so we can get on with approval of this nominee, hopefully shortly thereafter, and fill this spot which is sitting there waiting to be filled.
We have North Korea exploding a nuclear device. We have a war going on in Afghanistan. We need to have a Secretary of Defense in place. So I hope there is not a delay. Following the vote today, I hope we do invoke cloture, because I think there has been more than adequate time. Surely, there has been time on the floor when we have had hour after hour go by with no one who seeks to be recognized to speak.
I do hope that if the unanimous consent proposal is agreed to, there will be 60 votes today. But if not, then there will be no alternative but to have the vote when we come back. At that point, we would, of course, look forward to the support, at least on cloture, of the three Senators who have just spoken, our friends on the other side of the aisle.
That is the best we can hope for. But that is my hope. I will not object because of that.