Flu Or No Flu, Health Sec’s Nomination Will Still Require 60 Votes, GOP Says
If this flu becomes a serious issue in the U.S., I think the GOP may regret this.
So Kathleen Sebelius will get her confirmation vote as Health and Human Services secretary tomorrow in the Senate — but even with the flu outbreak, her confirmation will still have to clear a big hurdle, requiring 60 votes.
So says the office of GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, anyway.
As you know, Senate Republicans have been filibustering Sebelius over lingering questions about her views on late-term abortions and some campaign contributions she received from an abortion doctor. Late last week, the Senate Dem leadership announced that in the face of GOP opposition, they had agreed with Republicans to bring Sebelius’ confirmation to the floor for a vote tomorrow that would indeed require the 60 votes.
The outbreak of the flu epidemic had led some Dems to hope that the GOP would drop their filibuster, which would mean the 60 vote threshold would no longer apply. And even GOP Senator Susan Collins called for the Senate to expedite her confirmation today.
But McConnell spokesperson Don Stewart tells me she’ll still have to clear the 60 vote threshold. The question is, Whose fault is this?
McConnell spokesperson Stewart says that the Senate agreement last week has “locked in” the 60 vote threshold. “She’ll have her confirmation vote tomorrow,” he says, adding that “every single Democrat” agreed to that threshold.
But Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Dem Senate leader Harry Reid, says that Senate GOPers could waive the 60 vote threshold if they wanted to. “With consent it could be changed if they agreed, but as of right now I don’t see any willingness to do so on their part,” he said.
Bottom line: The filibuster over an abortion controversy is still throwing a hurdle in the way of this nomination, despite the flu epidemic.