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When is a filibuster not a filibuster? Whither sequestration? A round-up of Congressional cliffhangers

by AirTalk®

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Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (C) listens to former U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-VA) (L) and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), both former chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as they deliver openingn remarks during Hagel's confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense before the committee January 31, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Last night, Congress fled the White House to start a 10-day vacation, leaving plenty of unfinished business on the table.  Democrats and Republicans have been waging an ongoing battle for votes dealing with defense measures, including President Obama’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, former senator Chuck Hagel, and the sequestration measures that could institute major budget cuts to defense spending.

GOP senators successfully managed to stall fellow Republican Hagel’s nomination using the “silent filibuster.” Fifty-eight Democratic senators and four Republicans breaking from the rest of their party voted to continue with the nomination proceedings, failing to meet the 60 total votes required to override a Republican filibuster, although Republicans did signal their willingness to vote Hagel through after next week’s recess.

Senators and House representatives will also vote on the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that will automatically begin on March 1 – Senate leaders from both parties say they have alternate legislation that would prevent the cuts and will begin voting when Congress reconvenes on February 25.

Is Congress handling cabinet nominations and sequestration budgeting in a responsible way? Why the delay on confirming Hagel as Defense Secretary? Are senators playing a game of chicken with what both parties agree could be devastating spending cuts? Should the president have an unencumbered right to pick members of his cabinet?

Aaron Blake, Political Reporter for the Washington Post

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