White House denounces Republicans' blocking of vote on Chuck Hagel's Defense Secretary nomination

Washington, Feb. 15 (ANI): Republican senators have delayed a vote to confirm President Obama's nominee for US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

The lawmakers said that questions about Senator Chuck Hagel remained, but have agreed to an up-or-down vote on 26 February.

According to the BBC, Hagel's sipporters said that the US military needs a leader in place while troops remain in Afghanistan and North Korea has just tested a nuclear device.

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is to remain in his post until Hagel is confirmed.

White House press secretary Jay Carney denounced the delay, saying Senate Republicans had put political posturing ahead of America's national security.

In a statement, he said that 'a clear majority in the US Senate supports Senator Hagel's confirmation, so the action runs against both the majority will of the Senate and the nation's interest'.

But Republicans, who have agreed to a vote following an upcoming 10-day recess, have said they need more time to weigh outstanding questions about Hagel.

According to the report, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also said he would continue to use the confirmation vote as leverage in his effort to wring more information from the White House about the response to the 11 September attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Hagel was a private citizen at the time of the attack.

On Thursday, Republicans forced the delay with a parliamentary maneuver blocking the Senate Democratic leader's motion to end debate on Hagel's nomination and proceed to an up-or-down vote on confirmation.

Even though the Democrats hold a majority of 55 votes, Senate rules in this case require them to come up with 60 to end debate. They fell one short.

He has also been criticised during the confirmation process for comments he made years ago claiming 'the Jewish lobby' had too much influence over American policy.

His remarks in 1998 that a nominee for an ambassadorial post was 'openly, aggressively gay' have also raised eyebrows. Hagel has, however, since apologised for that comment, the report added. (ANI)

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