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Democrats seek U.S. Senate vote to confirm Brennan as CIA head

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate's Democratic leadership signaled that, despite a snowstorm in the Washington area, they would try to hold a final vote by the full Senate on Wednesday to confirm White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as director of the CIA.

"Roll call votes in relation to the Brennan nomination are possible this afternoon," said a statement issued by the office of Senator Richard Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat.

To hold a vote, senators would have to muster enough support to stop a filibuster by Republican Senator Rand Paul, who took to the Senate floor around midday intending to speak indefinitely to try to prevent a vote on the nomination from taking place.

"I'm here to speak as long as I can hold up," Paul said.

He was protesting against a U.S. policy of using unmanned drone aircraft in foreign conflicts, as well as what he said was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil.

A Senate leadership aide said Democratic leader Senator Harry Reid would seek an agreement with Republicans to hold a vote on Wednesday for "cloture," a procedure under which a 60 vote Senate majority would put a halt to any further debate on Brennan's nomination. That would allow the Senate to proceed to a final floor vote, in which only a simple majority of Senators would need to vote to confirm Brennan.

On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted by an overwhelming 12-3 majority to approve Brennan's nomination and send it to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Some Republican critics of President Barack Obama's administration had threatened to try to delay the nomination until the White House discloses more information about its response to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 last year.

A congressional aide said that, despite the snowstorm, 94 Senators were present on Wednesday morning to vote on a judicial nomination, and therefore a vote on Brennan's nomination later in the day was not out of the question.

The Intelligence Committee put off a vote on Brennan last week because of squabbling among both Democratic and Republican committee members and the White House over congressional access to sensitive documents related to the Benghazi attacks and the administration's use of drones to attack suspected militants. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball; editing by Christopher Wilson)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130306/democrats-seek-us-senate-vote-confirm-brennan-cia-head