From NBC's Ken Strickland
The Senate will take a procedural vote Monday afternoon that Democrats will call a "no confidence" vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The vote essentially determines whether the Senate can take up and debate the resolution offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) that simply states Gonzales, "no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and the American people"
This vote, called "the motion to proceed," requires 60 to pass. And even if it were to pass -- which it's not expected to -- it would still face additional hurdles before reaching a final vote. This "sense of the Senate" resolution is nonbinding. Before the vote, which is scheduled for 5:30 pm ET, there will be an hour of debate equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Six Republican senators (Sununu, McCain, Coburn, Hagel, Smith, and Coleman) have either called for Gonzales' resignation or said the Department of Justice would be better served without his leadership. (Smith's office disputes any account that says he's called for the AG's firing or resignation.) But at this point, none of the six has voiced support for the resolution. Coburn says he won't; Coleman says it's "politics." McCain is scheduled to be in California.
Even though GOP support for Gonzales is scarce in the Senate, the Republican leadership will likely follow the president's lead by suggesting partisan politics. They'll also point to Schumer's secondary job as the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the group tasked with getting Democrats elected and re-elected to the Senate. A senior GOP leadership aide points out that, for all the hype surrounding this vote, Democrats have devoted only one hour of debate.