February 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Hagel and the new balance of power

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Capitol Hill (CNN) – The nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense has hit a snag. Not just by questions about the former senator, the attack in Benghazi, and partisan politics. It's also caught on what may be a massive shift in the balance of power between Congress and the President.

[:23] Don Ritchie, historian of the U.S. Senate says, “Since WWII, at least, the executive branch has taken over a great deal of power…And Congress has sort of felt that they’ve lost in this process.”

To wrest power back to the legislative branch, Ritchie says Congress has employed a number of means, with the blocking of presidential nominations in the Senate at the top of the list.

Nominees could not be blocked by filibuster, or cloture, votes until 1949, but even after that the move was rare. It happened only 11 times in the next 43 years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Then, it suddenly took off, with Republicans forcing cloture votes on 19 nominees during the Clinton administration. Democrats returned, and expanded on, the favor with 38 cloture votes on President George W. Bush’s nominees.

The vast majority of those were blocks or threatened blocks on judges or lower-level nominees. But Thursday’s vote was a first. Never before had a cabinet nominee failed a cloture vote.

For more on why the balance of power is shifting and how the nominee process gives leverage to Congress, listen to our story.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Киев СТО,станция техобслуживания

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    February 21, 2013 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sandi Wilkinson

    I reason there is controversy is that President Obama is a Democrat and won't bow down to what the Republicians want I just seems rediculous to me. The President nominates a Republican, one who actually served in the Military and the reason they give not to nominate him is his views on Israel. we should no endorse the invasion of Palistine.

    February 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joi Gibson

    You reap what you sow. There will be a Republican president again, and since Congress is made up of little kids, the Democrats will repay the favor and then Republicans will cry foul. The questions being asked of Chuck Hagel have absolutely nothing to with the position of Secretary of Defense. Not once was he questioned about the defense cuts, the draw down in Afghanistan, the plight of returning soldiers, etc. This is all posturing on the part of Republicans and it is shameful.

    February 19, 2013 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. angel

    Jesus said to his own disciple,all who take the sword perish with the
    sword,and Jesus sent out his disciples without swords to spread his Gospel,and
    Jesus said he fulfills all the prophets,and that would include the prophet
    Isaiah,and so Isaiah 2:4,he will Judge nations and rebuke people,and they'll
    beat their swords into plowshares,and practice war no more.Jesus was consistent
    on this throughout,and he meant this for all people,believers and non believers
    alike.Believers have even more of a responsibility to obey him,as they as
    Christians must set a good example for the world to follow,they are to listen to
    their conscience it is God speaking to them.The sword Jesus rules with is the
    word of God,not the guns and bombs of wars that destroy life.

    February 19, 2013 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Peter Flynt

    The Republicans have poked Obama in the eye. So now all of their concerns have been answered and Hagel's confirmation will happen when the Senate returns in a few days. Baloney, nothing new has come out other than Hagel grovelling in order to get confirmed. Hagel's past statements are on the record. What good is his word if he doesn't stick to it?

    February 19, 2013 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |