Reid says Senate can leave if GOP allows vote on CIA nominee

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is seeking a deal with Republicans that could allow John Brennan to be confirmed Wednesday as CIA director.

Reid is asking Republicans to agree to an up-or-down vote for Brennan that would be subject to a 60-vote majority.

The deal would require Republicans to drop a filibuster over Brennan. If they refuse, the Senate wouldn’t be able to get to an up-or-down vote on the nominee until Friday.

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It’s still unclear whether Reid’s gambit will be successful. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) launched a filibuster on the Senate floor because he the administration to say whether American citizens can be targeted by armed drones inside the United States. He said he will speak for "as long as it takes."

“I will speak today until the president says, ‘no’ he will not kill you at a café," Paul said.

Reid is also facing a separate issue that could prevent a Wednesday on Brennan.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have said they want their questions on last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, answered before moving forward with Brennan.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday morning that a deal had not yet been reached.

“I think there’s some progress made, but there’s no deal yet,” Chambliss told The Hill. “It’s kind of a combination of things, but we’re working through it.”

McCain and Graham said Thursday they were “very close” to getting what they wanted from the administration on Benghazi.

“The key is to get what we think we’re entitled to, and we’re very close,” Graham told reporters as he left the Senate floor with McCain.

“We’re having discussions. We obviously don’t want to hold things up,” McCain said.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who has joined McCain and Graham pressing the administration on Benghazi, said she thought the issues would be resolved Thursday.

Some of the documents the senators are seeking, such as eyewitness statements and FBI interviews, fall under the purview of the Judiciary Committee, Ayotte said, so they might use that avenue to pursue those further.

“There are still questions that need to be answered, but not all of them flow through the Intelligence Committee,” Ayotte said.

Brennan was approved by the Senate Intelligence panel in a 12-3 vote on Tuesday that suggests he’d have the support to win 60 votes.

In comments on the floor Wednesday, Reid said it was critical to have Brennan in office as soon as possible.

“As the U.S. watches the events in Syria and around the world unfold, it’s crucial that President Obama have a national security team in place,” Reid said. “John Brennan is a highly qualified nominee.”

On Tuesday, the House decided to hold votes earlier on Wednesday in order for members to be able to leave town early because of a snowstorm hitting the Washington area. The House is expected to complete its business by 2 p.m.

The Senate has a vote to end debate on a judicial nominee at 10:30 a.m. Reid said the Senate could also vote Wednesday on Brennan if Republicans agreed.

— This story was updated at 12:35 p.m.