Senate Democrats forced a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to become defense secretary and came up two votes short on Thursday.
Hagel needed 60 votes to ensure his spot at the Department of Defense. Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate, and just two Republicans pledged support for their former colleague earlier this week.
The former senator from Nebraska will now have to wait at least a week for another shot at confirmation. Lawmakers are leaving town tonight for a short recess.
Republicans threatened to put the confirmation process on hold after a Senate panel on Tuesday approved Hagel’s nomination for a full vote. They want more information on President Barack Obama’s actions during and following the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier this week he had enough votes to approve the nomination and scoffed at Republican’s threat to filibuster.
President Obama criticized Thursday’s failed vote as another example of his opponents playing politics while the nation is still at war.
But Republicans say they don’t think Hagel’s the right man to lead the nation during wartime, citing his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, Iraq, and nuclear weapons.