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Senate OKs nominating process changes

  |   June 30, 2011 at 7:48 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate approved a measure that would simplify the nomination process, endorsing a gentleman's agreement reached by the chamber's top party leaders.

Rules and Administration Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the 79-20 bipartisan vote Wednesday would help ease gridlock in the chamber, Roll Call reported Thursday.

"The backup of nominations ... gridlocks other important legislative business. And that's why the Senate, often known as the cooling saucer, has become like a subzero freezer," Schumer said before the vote. "The less time committees have to spend on nominees, the more time they can spend working toward improving the lives of everyday American people."

The measure would eliminate formal Senate approval of nearly 170 nominees and would streamline the confirmation process of other nominees by creating a working group to review and recommend changes to the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reached an agreement earlier this year to free up the Senate calendar and reduce partisan bickering.

During the debate, the Senate also jabbed the International Monetary Fund through a series of amendment votes. The Senate voted to keep its authority to confirm U.S. representatives to the IMF but stopped short of barring the United States from making loans to the IMF.

The amendment votes came a day after French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was named the new IMF leader and several weeks after its former head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in New York on sexual assault charges.

The defunding measure, sponsored Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., was defeated along party lines, while an amendment offered by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to continue Senate review of IMF governors passed on a voice vote, Roll Call said.

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