When is a filibuster not a filibuster? When senators delaying a vote say it isn't, according to Senate Republicans who are blocking President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.
When is it a filibuster then? When a senator either drones on and on as in the old days or, increasingly, just threatens to.
Those seem to be the wacky ground rules as senators battle over their former colleague's nomination.
Right now, they're taking a short intermission after Republicans blocked, at least temporarily, a vote on Hagel's nomination on Thursday.
Another vote is scheduled for Feb. 26 when the Senate returns from its 10-day break.
Democrats control 55 votes in the 100-seat chamber and easily have more than the 51 votes needed to confirm the former Republican senator from Nebraska.
But Senate math is more complicated.
By rules and tradition, 60 votes are required to break a filibuster or other delaying tactics just to get to that up-and-down vote.
Right now, Democrats don't have them. They only mustered 58 on Thursday in their let's-get-on-with-it vote.
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