The Senate fell one vote short Thursday of clearing the way for a confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel, with Sen. Deb Fischer joining most of her Republican colleagues in voting no despite her expressed opposition to a filibuster of the nomination.
"I don't consider this a filibuster," Fischer said in a telephone interview after the cloture vote.
"This is not a filibuster to kill the nomination," she said, but only a delay to allow some senators time to acquire more information they have requested from Hagel, who is President Barack Obama's nominee to be secretary of defense.
Fischer said she expects to vote for cloture later, although she ultimately will vote against confirmation of Hagel, Nebraska's former Republican senator. A second vote on cloture, a motion that formally ends debate, is likely Feb. 26.
Fischer's interpretation of Thursday's vote differed from that of her Nebraska colleague, Sen. Mike Johanns, who earlier in the day described opposition to cloture as a filibuster.
"If the Democrats were doing this, we would be hollering this is a filibuster," Johanns said. "It's a filibuster."
Unlike Fischer, Johanns supports the confirmation of Hagel.
Four Republican senators joined Senate Democrats in supporting Thursday's cloture motion.
Although the final tally was 58-40, two votes short of the required 60 votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had changed his vote from aye to nay in order to file a motion to reconsider the cloture vote after the Senate returns from a week's recess.
Other Republicans joining Johanns were Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Fischer said she felt no discomfort in the fact that she could have provided the 60th vote required to proceed to a vote on confirmation.
"I believe my responsibility is to make sure members of the Senate (have) the information they need to do their jobs," she said. "A lot has changed in the last week."
Some of her colleagues have found copies of speeches that Hagel has delivered that had been requested and not been made available by him, Fischer said.
Hagel "should be given time to provide more information," she said.
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has said Hagel complied with the committee request to provide copies of all the speeches he possessed.
"I don't know what's out there," Fischer said. "My mind is made up on the information I have requested."
Fischer was elected to the Senate in November, defeating Democratic nominee Bob Kerrey, who had been endorsed by Hagel.
Johanns announced his support for Hagel after completion of his hearing before the Armed Services Committee. Fischer, a member of the committee, joined her Republican colleagues in voting no on a motion to recommend his confirmation by the Senate.