Maverick McCain Wants Hillary Confirmed NOW

By Nitya

Jan 21, 2009 4:30pm

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Z. Byron Wolf report: Is the old John McCain — the one who often sided with Democrats and drove leaders of his own party crazy — back?

Just yesterday, the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was delayed because Republican Senator John Cornyn insisted on having a debate and a recorded roll call vote on her nomination.  Republican and Democratic leaders crafted an agreement for three hours of debate and a roll call vote at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.

Enter Maverick McCain.

In a move that seemed to surprise everyone, the Arizona Republican and erstwhile presidential candidate came to the Senate floor to call for a quick conclusion of the debate and an immediate voice vote.

"I think we ought to let Senator Clinton, who is obviously qualified and obviously will serve, get to work immediately," McCain said. 

Here’s why:  "I would remind all my colleagues we had an election and we also had a remarkable and historic time yesterday and this nation has come together as it has not for sometime," McCain said.  "I pay attention to the president’s approval ratings — very high — but more importantly, I think the message that the American people are sending us now is they want us to work together and get to work."

McCain’s move briefly left Sen. John Kerry, who was leading the debate for the Democrats, speechless. 

Because there were no Republicans around to object, Kerry was put in the bizarre situation of defending the right of Clinton’s Republican critics to have three hours of debate and a recorded vote. 

Kerry refused to immediately go along with McCain’s suggestion, and asked that McCain first go to the Republican cloakroom to check and see if his colleagues would be OK with ending debate early.   

McCain’s actions don’t really change anything.  Clinton was certain to be confirmed anyway, just an hour or two later. 

McCain’s move came shortly after one of Clinton’s toughest critics, Sen. John Cornyn gave a speech criticizing the Clinton’s Foundation’s rules for disclosing foreign donations, but saying he would vote "yes" on her nomination, anyway. 

"My concern is not whether our colleague, Senator Clinton, is qualified to be Secretary of State or not," Cornyn said.  "She is. And I intend to vote for her confirmation, but I also believe it’s very important to flesh out some of the concerns that have been raised legitimately by Senator Kerry, Senator Lugar and others that I think bears some public discussion and some debate here in the Senate."

He said in a private conversation yesterday that Clinton seemed open to an across-the-board disclosure rule for foundations that does not target the Clinton foundation.

We’ll know later today if all senators will agree to ending debate early and having a voice vote instead of a roll call vote.

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UPDATE: Senator John McCain got a little Mavericky, but it didn’t make much difference.  The Senate refused to go along with his request for ending debate early and confirming Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State by acclamation.  Not that it mattered much.  Debate ended, as scheduled, and at 4:38 p.m. on Wednesday, the Senate voted — in a roll call vote — to confirm Mrs. Clinton, 94 to 2.  The only nays:  Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

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