Top Cabinet Filibusters

PHOTO: Zoe Baird, President Bill Clinton's choice to head the Justice Department as attorney general, continues her testimony Jan. 21, 1993 before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC..
Jennifer K. Law/AFP/Getty Images

Presidents choose their cabinet members, but senators get the final say in whether they get the job. While most presidential cabinet nominees are easily confirmed, some have a tougher time getting through gnarly confirmation hearings and past procedural roadblocks to a vote. A filibuster -- in which a minority of senators block an up or down vote on a nominee who has majority support -- has been used only twice in history against a cabinet nominee.

The Senate has rejected only nine cabinet-level nominees. Usually, a nominee will withdraw long before getting rejected. Twelve nominees have withdrawn over the threat of a filibuster.

Here is a look at some of the more notable confirmation filibusters -- and failures -- from both sides of the political aisle.

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Obama Administration Position: Secretary of Defense

PHOTO: In this Jan. 31, 2013 photo, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Chuck Hagel

Republican senators temporarily stalled Chuck Hagel's confirmation for at least a week while they pored over his past statements on Israel and his past opposition to some of the sanctions against Iran. Sen. John McCain, less than pleased with Hagel's nomination, delayed his confirmation as he, along with other Republican senators, sought more White House information about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consultate in Benghazi, Libya.

Hagel, a Republican, fell only one vote short of defeating the Republicans' filibuster on Feb.14. With most senators behind him now, a solid block of them Democrats, Hagel is expected to be confirmed when Congress returns from its recess on Feb. 25.

George W. Bush Administration Position: U.S. Permanent Representative to United Nations

PHOTO: John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media after a meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany concerning Iran at the French Mission to the UN November 13, 2006 in New York City.
Michael Nagle/Getty Images
John Bolton

John Bolton was nominated by President George W. Bush to be a U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.

Democrats, however, filibustered the nomination. Although Bush nominated Bolton during a congressional recess in 2005, the Senate failed to act on his nomination, and he was forced to leave office at the end of 2006.

This was not a cabinet-level post during the Bush years, although it was in the Clinton administration, and again in the Obama administration.

Obama Administration Position: Health and Human Services Secretary

PHOTO: Thomas Daschle, former Senator from South Dakota, speaks at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8, 2009.
Jay Mallin/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Tom Daschle

They say there's only two things certain in life: death and taxes.

Tom Daschle was President Obama's first choice to lead the charge for a law to revamp health care. But when it became known that Daschle owed more than $140,000 in taxes, he had to withdraw his nomination for secretary of health and human services.

Many Democrats publicly supported Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, despite the argument that Daschle's previous work involved lobbying and so violated Obama's promise to keep special interests out of the White House.

Daschle withdrew his nomination after he admitted he failed to pay his taxes on such items as a car service. President Obama accepted Daschle's withdrawal with "sadness and regret."

George H.W. Bush Administration position: Defense Secretary

PHOTO: In this Jan. 25, 1989 photo, Defense Secretary-designate John Tower of Texas testifies before the Senate Armed Service Committee in Washington, at his confirmation hearing.
John Duricka/AP Photo
John Tower

The late John Tower was George H. W. Bush's choice for defense secretary in 1989, but when it came to a vote, the Senate defeated the nomination 47-53.

John Tower, a former senator, knew many of those who would be voting on whether to confirm him. The Republican nominee was defeated in a near-party line vote with nearly every Democrat voting no. What worked most against Tower were reported allegations of alcohol abuse and womanizing. Tower was the first candidate to ever be rejected for a cabinet position in the administration of a newly elected president.

George W. Bush Administration position: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

PHOTO: Bernard Kerik, followed by members of the media, leaves the Federal Court House in White Plains, New York, Nov. 9, 2007.
Rick Maiman/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Bernard Kerik

Bush nominated Bernard Kerik on Dec. 3, 2004, to succeed Tom Ridge in the position of U.S. secretary of homeland security.

But on Dec. 10, Kerik withdrew his nomination, stating that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper. A president's cabinet picks had also been withdrawn in the Bush and Clinton administrations for violations of immigration law and the hiring of undocumented workers.

There were also a number of ethical issues that were later brought up against Kerik, including an alleged affair, a sexual harassment lawsuit and issues regarding Kerik's sale of stock in Taser International.

Bush cabinet nominee Linda Chavez was also forced to withdraw her nomination for the position of U.S. secretary of labor in 2001 when she was accused of paying an undocumented immigrant to do household chores. Chavez was the first Hispanic woman to be nominated to a cabinet position.

Clinton Administration position: Attorney General

PHOTO: Zoe Baird, President Bill Clinton's choice to head the Justice Department as attorney general, continues her testimony Jan. 21, 1993 before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC..
Jennifer K. Law/AFP/Getty Images
Zoe Baird

Before Zoe Baird's nomination, a woman had never been attorney general.

But Zoe Baird couldn't take the position because just after she was nominated, it was revealed that she had paid two undocumented immigrants to take care of her child. In addition to hiring the undocumented caregivers, Baird and her husband had failed to pay Social Security taxes for the workers. Facing wide-ranging criticism and losing support from both Democrats and Republicans, she withdrew her nomination.

Clinton Administration position: Attorney General

PHOTO: Kimba Wood attends The Autumn Dinner at The Frick Collection, Oct. 19, 2009 in New York City.
Amy Sussman/Getty Images
Kimba Wood

The Clinton administration made the same mistake again with its second pick for attorney general.

In what became known as "Nannygate," Clinton's second pick for attorney general, Kimba Wood, was also found to have employed an undocumented immigrant to look after her child. Although she had employed the nanny when it was legal and had also paid Social Security taxes for the nanny, Wood immediately withdrew from consideration.

The third time was the charm for Clinton, however, as he finally got a woman into the post with Janet Reno. Reno wasn't found to have employed an undocumented worker and served as attorney general position through the entirety of Clinton's two terms.

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