Senate confirmation process slogs on ... and on ... and on

Dec. 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Confirmation of some of President Obama's appointments advanced in the U.S. Senate Thursday, slowed by Republicans' anger over filibuster rule change.

Senators began confirming Obama's judicial and executive appointments at 2 p.m. Wednesday and continued through the night into Wednesday as Republicans sought to slow down the process by taking as much time as they could on each nominee.

Republicans remained angry over efforts by the majority Democrats to enforce a rule change that expedites consideration of some judicial and executive appointments by requiring only a simple majority rather than 60 votes to thwart a filibuster on presidential nominee.

"The Obama administration and its allies have done just about everything to get what they want, one way or the other -- even fundamentally altering the contours of our democracy when they couldn't get their way playing by the rules," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in floor remarks Wednesday. "We saw the culmination of that with the Majority Leader's power grab in the Senate last month."

Republicans required the marathon session if Democrats want to clear a lengthy list of nominees before the holiday recess scheduled to start next week, CNN reported.

The first vote in the extended session came shortly after 1 a.m. EDT as the Senate approved 51-44 the appointment of Nina Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, considered in some quarters to be a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I thank the Senate for confirming Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which for the first time, will have five active female judges on the bench," Obama said in a statement. "Throughout her career, Ms. Pillard has displayed an unwavering commitment to justice and integrity."

By midmorning Thursday, a handful of judicial and executive nominations had been confirmed. At noon, Eastern time, the Senate suspended debate for a prayer.

Some Republicans used their time to speak on the Affordable Care Act while others chided Democrats for changing the rules.

Democratic leaders said they were prepared to stay in session through Saturday night to confirm a list of 10 nominees, including key nominations such as Jeh Johnson as secretary of Homeland Security, CNN said.

The rule change does not affect nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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