Senate Republicans have forced Leon Panetta to remain in the job he is eager to give up. They did that by delaying a confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
But they also have given the White House an opening to cast the GOP as obstructing President Barack Obama's assembly of a second-term national security team.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans temporarily blocked a Hagel confirmation vote.
They are insisting that the administration must first answer more questions about its handling of a terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The vote to clear the way for an up-or-down vote fell just short of the needed 60.
The White House call it "political posturing" and Democrats say the result is a threat to national security.