If the Senate moves ahead with a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales next week as planned, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already made clear he will “tie up the Senate floor with all kinds of procedural mischief and introduce any number of amendments.”
McConnell has also cracked the whip and brought his caucus into line. Roll Call reports today that none of the six conservative senators who have called for Gonzales to resign have said they will vote for the measure.
Six GOP Senators have gone on the record essentially demanding Gonzales’ resignation, and one of them — Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) — already has declared he’ll vote against the nonbinding no-confidence resolution.
The five others — Sens. John Sununu (N.H.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.) — were unwilling to tip their hands about how they will vote, despite repeated attempts to contact them last week.
All five undeclared senators have offered harsh words for Gonzales in the past, garnering press attention and bolstering their image:
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH): “The president should fire the attorney general and replace him as soon as possible with someone who can provide strong, aggressive leadership.”
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “The American people deserve an Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of our country, whose honesty and capability are beyond question. Attorney General Gonzales can no longer meet this standard. He has failed this country. He has lost the moral authority to lead.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “I think that out of loyalty to the president that that [resignation] would probably be the best thing that he could do.”
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)- “For the Justice Department to be effective before the U.S. Senate, it would be helpful.”
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): “I don’t believe that Gonzales has the type of leadership that the department needs.“
Now, forced to choose accountability over party loyalty, these senators have gone silent.