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Congress: The Hagel fight

“Accusing Republicans of a new level of obstruction, Senate Democrats moved on Wednesday to force a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense,” the New York Times says. “Only twice since 1917, when the Senate’s modern filibuster rules were created, has a cabinet-level nominee been subject to a supermajority vote of 60, as Republicans are forcing with Mr. Hagel.”

“Chuck Hagel will not get the support of a prominent Republican moderate as the Senate gets ready to consider his nomination as secretary of Defense,” USA Today writes. Susan Collins said yesterday she’ll oppose Hagel.  More: “Only two Republicans — Mississippi's Thad Cochran and Nebraska's Mike Johanns — have said they will vote to confirm Hagel. Democrats have a 55-45 voting edge in the Senate.”

Norm Ornstein: “This has not been a good month for the fabric of governance. First we have the ridiculous demands from a majority of Senate Republicans for information about finances of private groups that former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel has been affiliated with, including transcripts or notes from all speeches he has given since he left the Senate, even when off-the-record and even when he had no prepared speech. The request for finances, namely about foreign money given to corporations or nonprofits such as the Atlantic Council, is a simple smear, innuendo that Hagel may be wrongly connected to foreign interests or governments.”

“Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told USA Today Wednesday that he is prepared to put a ‘hold’ on John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA, and to filibuster it if necessary, until the administration answers his questions about the use of drones in the United States.”

But, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports that Majority Leader Harry Reid will not honor the hold.

“Jacob J. Lew emerged relatively unscathed from his nomination hearing to serve as Treasury secretary, putting the administration’s choice to replace Timothy F. Geithner on a likely easy path to confirmation,” Roll Call writes.

Roll Call notes that Republicans’ opposition to the minimum wage increase sought by the president could make them look bad.

OK, mark March 27th now on your calendars…  Roll Call: “Even as they blame one another for automatic spending cuts set to take effect March 1, key lawmakers on both sides believe the best chance for a bipartisan deal to restructure the sequester will come by the end of March. ‘The best time to redesign the automatic spending cuts will come with the [expiration of the] continuing resolution on March 27,’ said Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. ‘The cuts will occur on March 1. Then there will be a fight in the CR over the design.’”

Scott Brown debuted as a FOX contributor last night.