15 Feb 2013
THE VALENTINE’S DAY FILIBUSTER…OR WAS IT FirstRead writes, “Safe to say, there was little love in the U.S. Senate yesterday on Valentine’s Day. Senate Republicans used a filibuster to temporarily block Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Pentagon — the first time a filibuster had ever been used against a defense secretary nominee and just the third time ever against a cabinet secretary pick. A combination of reasons contributed to 41 Republicans denying Hagel the 60 votes he needed to clear the procedural hurdle: Some were always opposed to Hagel; others were mad at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not respecting a GOP “hold” and scheduling the vote; some were mad at the White House over Benghazi; and one GOP senator (Orrin Hatch) voted “present” because of the precedent that a no vote would send. Here’s the bottom line on where Hagel’s nomination stands: A delay is never a good thing, because it gives his opponents additional time to try to torpedo his nomination. That said, the fact that Hagel essentially got 59 votes (including four from Republicans) suggests he’s likely to be confirmed when this vote comes up again in late February.” COULD IT BE AN I-TOLD-YOU-SO-MOMENT? Those who were disappointed in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not pushing hard enough on filibuster reform are enjoying an I-told-you-so moment this week. “DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE” What’s the actual real difference between “extended debate” which happens all the time (and requires 60 votes to end debate) and requiring 60 votes to cut off debate, in effect requiring the majority to overcome a filibuster – or at least the threat of a filibuster. According to the CRS, “filibusters are “a matter of intent; any course of action by opponents of a matter may be a filibuster if it is undertaken with the purpose of blocking or delaying a vote.” According to one GOP aide, the terms “filibuster” and “cloture vote” are used interchangeably depending on what side of the debate you’re on.” Get it? A Senate minority preventing a Cabinet nominee from being confirmed would be unprecedented — and definitely a filibuster.