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Senate Panel Likely to Vote on Brennan Thursday

The Senate Intelligence Committee is all but certain to vote Feb. 28 on the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the CIA, and the panel’s chairwoman predicted the committee would vote to support him.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she hoped to hold a vote that day, pending a conversation with her vice chairman, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

“We’ll see if they have what they want, and I think they do, to have a vote,” she said Monday. On whether he would get a favorable vote, Feinstein said, “I think he’ll come out.”

The vote was delayed the week before recess as senators sought documents from the Obama administration related to drone strike policy and the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Feinstein said she still was not sure if the committee would receive some of the additional legal memos the panel was seeking prior to Thursday’s vote. These memos lay out the legal justification for the targeted killings — such as with armed drones — of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.

A Republican aide said the panel was expecting the administration to share e-mail traffic related to the talking points prepared shortly after the Benghazi attack with members and a limited number of staffers, as well as other Benghazi documents, at a committee meeting Tuesday.

“We are not sure that all members are going to be satisfied with this, especially if a lot of documents are still not in hand at the time of the vote,” the aide said. But he added that Chambliss “will not ask that the vote not proceed.”

A pair of Republican committee members suggested Thursday they might be prepared to support Brennan’s nomination.

“I am inclined to support him,” said Susan Collins of Maine. She said she still wanted to review some additional information, including on Benghazi. She also said she believes the committee should receive all the relevant Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos on targeted killings of U.S. citizens, as well.

Marco Rubio of Florida said he, too, still wanted to review some additional information related to Benghazi, but noted that Brennan “had a good hearing” on Feb. 7.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he thought now was a good time to demand the drone strike documents, while the administration wanted something from Congress. But would not answer whether he would vote “yes” or “no” on Brennan’s nomination if there were a vote on Thursday.

A number of senators have threatened to place holds on the nomination pending the receipt of additional information on drone strike policy, Benghazi and Brennan’s views on harsh interrogation techniques.

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