Senator Inhofe threatens filibuster to block Hagel nomination
Senator Graham has indicated he would place a "hold" on the nominations until the White House cooperated fully on the investigation into the Benghazi attacks. A hold is a senatorial courtesy that tells the leadership that a unanimus consent agreement - necessary to bring the nominations to the floor for a vote -- will not be possible because the usually anonymous senator who places a hold on the issue will object.
But it stops short of being a filibuster - an action that would be unprecedented in objecting to a cabinet nominee.
Senator Hagel will probably find himself alone in his advocacy for a filibuster.
Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that requiring 60 votes to confirm nominees was common and dismissed suggestions that GOP colleagues would be reluctant to back him.
"They are predicating it on the assumption that we haven't been doing it. In the last nine years we've done it nine times; some of them have been confirmed some have not. I don't see anything wrong with 60-vote margin with any of the two most significant jobs, appointments that the president has," said Inhofe.
The Senate has never filibustered a Cabinet nominee.
"I don't trust this president to make the right appointment, I don't think that Hagel is the right appointment," Inhofe added.
Hagel has faced tough opposition from GOP lawmakers, who have raised concerns about his views on Israel and Iran. But Inhofe is the first GOP senator to publicly back a possible filibuster to prevent his confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week refused to rule out a filibuster saying it was "not yet clear" what GOP leaders would do.
"I think the opposition to him is intensifying. Whether that means he will end up having to achieve 60 votes or 51 is not clear yet," McConnell said.
An aide to Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said earlier this month that "all options are on the table."
Their colleague Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said, however, that while he is leaning toward a "no" vote on Hagel he would object to a filibuster and hopes to convince his fellow lawmakers to avoid that path.
In addition to McCain, two Republicans have indicated they will support Hagel; Sens.Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). That means that it would take only three more Republicans to break the filibuster and send the nomination of Hagel to the floor.
It is more likely that Graham will get his "hold" and, after the White House makes it clear they won't cooperate, a successful cloture vote will be held and Hagel will be confirmed.