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Senate plans test vote on Chuck Hagel nomination

If Chuck Hagel receives the required 60 votes as expected, the Senate could proceed immediately to a final vote if no senator objects.


If Chuck Hagel receives the required 60 votes as expected, the Senate could proceed immediately to a final vote if no senator objects.

WASHINGTON — The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to cut off debate on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, testing whether there is support for a final vote to confirm President Obama’s embattled nominee.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said he intended to try to end the Republican filibuster of Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska whose nomination was blocked Feb. 14.

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While the Senate is ultimately expected to confirm Hagel, albeit narrowly, it remained unclear just how many more obstacles Republicans were willing to put in his path.

If Hagel receives the required 60 votes as expected, the Senate could proceed immediately to a final vote if no senator objects. If an objection is raised, Senate rules allow that the final vote can be delayed another 30 hours, meaning a vote could not take place until midday Wednesday.

For weeks, Hagel’s nomination has been bogged down as members of both parties scrutinized his background — demanding answers on everything from his attitudes toward Israel and Iran to the income he made from speechmaking once he left the Senate.

Opposition to his nomination — which has drawn the Obama administration into an uncomfortable fight with Senate Republicans as it tries to negotiate several other major issues with Congress such as a fiscal plan and gun control — has become a galvanizing cause among many conservatives.

Independent political groups have mobilized to try to dig up anything unflattering they could find on Hagel. Although they have not found much, the frenzy has at times resulted in Republican senators throwing out incendiary charges that have stretched the bounds of Senate collegiality, especially considering that Hagel is a former member of their ranks.

Even though many Republicans remain firmly opposed to Hagel, efforts to filibuster his nomination appear to be winding down. In recent days, such senators as John McCain of Arizona who were among the most outspoken Republican opponents of Hagel have indicated that they would vote to end the filibuster this week.


NRA uses Justice memo to rap Obama gun control plans

WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association is using a Justice Department memo it obtained to argue in ads that the Obama administration believes its gun control plans won’t work unless the government seizes firearms and requires national gun registration — ideas the White House has not proposed and says it does not support.

The NRA’s assertion and its use of the memo underscore the no-holds-barred battle underway over gun restrictions.

The memo, under the name of one of the Justice Department’s leading crime researchers, critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including some of President Obama’s. A Justice Department official called the memo an unfinished review of gun violence research and said it does not represent administration policy.

The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help but could also lead to more illicit weapons sales. It says banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines produced in the future but exempting those already owned by the public, as Obama has proposed, would have limited impact because people now own so many of those items.


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