The Cable

Koh cloture vote passes (UPDATED)

A cloture vote on the nomination of Harold Koh will be held this morning at 11 a.m. ET, The Cable has learned. Koh, the dean of Yale Law School, was tapped to become the State Department's legal advisor nearly four months ago, but has faced criticism from conservatives for an alleged "transnational" approach to the law.

According to reporter Dave Wiegel of the Washington Independent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said through a spokesman that he is confident he has the 60 votes needed to overcome conservative opposition to Koh's nomination.

Richard Lugar (R-IN), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement Tuesday expressing support for Koh. "After reading his answers to dozens of questions, attending his hearing in its entirety, meeting with him privately, and reviewing his writings, I believe that Dean Koh is unquestionably qualified to assume the post for which he is nominated," Lugar said.

UPDATE: "Cloture passed on a 65-31 vote," a Congressional source relays at 11:30am. "There was applause in the Senate gallery after the vote was announced. Republicans are threatening to exercise their right to use all 30 hours of floor debate before permitting a final vote, so Koh may not be formally confirmed until tomorrow."

The Cable

U.S. to return ambassador to Syria

Washington is going to return an ambassador to Damascus, Syrian Embassy officials informed Congressional aides Tuesday night, according to a missive obtained by The Cable.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman reportedly informed Syrian ambassador to Washington Imad Mustapha of the decision this afternoon. No word yet on who the ambassador will be. "No decision on who yet," an official said. "So this will take time to implement." Earlier this month, a U.S. military mission visited Syria to discuss in particular cooperation on stopping the flow of insurgents into Iraq.