What is Harry Reid talking about?
The Senate majority leader frequently says bizarre things on both the Senate floor and behind closed doors, but Thursday, Reid claimed in his morning remarks that if the Senate does not confirm controversial defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, the country could be without a leader at the Pentagon. At Foreign Policy, Kevin Baron confirms that this simply isn't true, since the current defense secretary, Leon Panetta has said he will stay at his post until his successor is confirmed by the Senate:
In a peculiar tactic, Reid he argued that the Senate should act quickly to nominate Hagel by suggesting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would no longer be defense secretary after noon on Thursday. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made a similar suggestion on Tuesday. Panetta’s office, however, told the E-Ring on Tuesday that he will remain defense secretary until Hagel, or any other successor, is confirmed.
"The Secretary plans to stay in office until Sen. Hagel is confirmed and sworn in," Pentagon press secretary George Little told the E-Ring, in an fresh email Thursday, following Reid's assertion.
“In less than two hours, our country will be without a secretary of defense," Reid claimed.