The Republican Senators denied that it was actually a filibuster. The Washington Post has an explanation on what is exactly going on.
Sarah Binder, an expert on legislative politics at George Washington University, explains what looks to be a distinction without a difference.
“Technically, there’s no hard or fast definition of what constitutes a filibuster,” said Binder. “There’s just extended debate, which happens all the time. To end debate, you might need a vote on cloture, which requires 60 votes. But, she says, requiring sixty votes to cut off debate is “in effect requiring the majority to overcome a filibuster– or at least the threat of a filibuster.”
So it appears that Republicans are arguing this is not a filibuster — though it would not be the first time for a cabinet nominee to be filibustered as many have reported — just that it is the threat of a filibuster.
The office of Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., worked to reform the filibuster before the start of this Congress. While his effort to reform the filibuster was not adopted, Udall said that the modest reform efforts that the Senate took were a step forward.
NM Telegram reached out to Udall’s office for a reaction to the news of the Hagel filibuster.
“The first filibuster of a Secretary of Defense in history shows the Senate very well may need further rules reform,” Udall spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said in a statement to NM Telegram. “The proposal by Senators Udall and Merkley would not have prevented this filibuster – they never intended to take away that right to debate. But under their proposal, filibustering a cabinet nominee would have required a sustained effort. If they failed to do so, a majority of the Senate would be able to move forward.”
Both Udall and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., voted against the filibuster.
Photo via Secretary of Defense Flickr account