Following an epic, old-school,13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation to helm the CIA, the Senate nevertheless approved the nominee today by a vote of 63-34, with a number of Republicans breaking ranks to vote in his favor.
Three senators who caucus with Democrats — Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — voted against Brennan’s confirmation, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote.
Brennan, who has long served as the president’s top counterterrorism official, was widely expected to gain Senate approval for the job. But his nomination has come to stand as a proxy for the Obama administration’s secretive and controversial targeted killing policy, and lawmakers on both the left and the right have spent weeks delaying his nomination in pursuit of more specific information about exactly who, where, and under what circumstances the administration deems itself authorized to use drones.
Of particular issue were the terms under which the U.S. might use lethal force against an American on U.S. soil, a possibility that Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed this week is plausible in cases of “extraordinary circumstance.”