Credit to Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard for breaking this: five conservative senators joined with John McCain and Lindsey Graham to oppose Chris Hill’s nomination as ambassador to Iraq. Sens. Sam Brownback — we knew about him already — John Ensign, James Inhofe, Kit Bond and John Kyl wrote to Obama to ask for the withdrawal of the Hill nomination, something that Obama administration officials told me wouldn’t happen. Their arguments are similar to McCain and Graham’s: Hill isn’t experienced in the Middle East (true) and his North Korea tenure was obnoxious (uh…). I’ll quote from Goldfarb’s paraphrase:

The Senators also say the found Hill’s work in the Six Party talks "deeply troubling." The charge Hill with engaging in "evasive and unprofessional activities, including sideling key officials at the State Department and breaking commitments made for the record before congressional committees." This will be the crux of the opposition to Hill, though obviously it is the overall course of the North Korea talks that drive suspicion of his appointment.

None of these senators are on the foreign relations committee, though, and today the committee’s GOP leader, Richard Lugar, came out in favor of Hill while all the other Republicans on the committee kept quiet. So who’ll be the one to play opposition point man at Hill’s confirmation hearing on March 25? Goldfarb suggests that Brownback will filibuster the nomination if it passes committee, but it’s harder to see how the GOP keeps a filibuster on Hill than it is for Democrats to overcome one, even if it comes to that.

Crossposted to The Streak.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman