Updated 7:03 p.m. Harold Hongju Koh’s future should get a lot clearer in about 36 hours.
Senate Democrats said this evening that they would give Republicans that much time to come to an agreement to consider Koh’s nomination for the position of legal adviser to the Department of State. If no agreement is reached, a cloture vote will be held Wednesday morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, said on the Senate floor at 7 p.m. this evening.
An hour earlier, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Regan Lachapelle, said in an e-mail message to the News that the Nevada senator was filing cloture “right now.” A cloture vote, which requires 60 votes to pass, would end debate on Koh’s nomination and force a vote on it.
Sen. Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, had reportedly placed all nominations to the Department of State, including Koh’s, on hold because of a dispute with the Obama administration regarding arms control negotiations with Russia. It has been increasingly clear that the Democratic leadership was growing impatient with the hold-up, and earlier today, Lachapelle said in an e-mail message that Reid hoped to bring Koh’s nomination to a vote as soon as possible.
“Senator Reid intends to file cloture on the nomination if we are unable to work out an agreement with the Republicans to confirm the nomination,” Lachapelle wrote. “As with all of the president’s nominees, it is important that we confirm this nomination as soon as possible so that he has a full team to address the many issues confronting the nation.”