February 14, 2013

1. Democrats today failed to get cloture on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, falling one vote short of the 60 needed (Harry Reid then changed his vote for procedural reasons, making the official count only 58). However, several Republican Senators say they will flip their votes after the Senate recess next week. If they do so, Hagel will defeat the filibuster and be confirmed.

2. For more on Hagel and filibusters, see Congress scholar Sarah Binder.

3. Regular readers know my view of this: it is the first cloture vote on a Secretary of Defense, and the first losing cloture vote for any cabinet nominee, but Republicans have set a 60 vote standard — and so have filibustered every nomination since Obama took office.

4. Brian Beutler makes a good point: One of the reasons Republicans sustained the filibuster today has to do with Harry Ried’s decision not to respect holds placed on the nomination. That probably explains 5 to10 of the Republican “no” votes — but remember that a hold is a type of filibuster, and holds are highly unusual on high-level cabinet positions.

5. Andrew Sullivan on the GOP: “the anti-conservative revolutionary party that Gingrich began and Kristol egged on is now in its zombie stage.”

6. Steve Benen has filibuster reformer Jeff Merkley’s reaction to today’s events. I read Merkley’s comments as a threat to undertake future Senate reform.

7. Can the federal government really run all those health care exchanges? That’s a huge question about whether the Affordable Care Act will succeed or not. Sarah Kliff reports on how it’s looking so far.

8. Marriage equality passes the Illinois state senate; Chris Geidner reports.

9. The State of the Union speech, carefully examined by James Fallows.

10. No one seems very happy with the president’s commission on voting; Nia-Malika Henderson and Felicia Sonmez have the story.

11. Seth Masket on whether campaigns actually do any good.

12. The F-35 is facing more problems, from Robert Farley.

13. What would the US look like with 50 equal-population states?

14. And the economics of love, from Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. Happy Arizona Statehood Day, everyone!