Senate Approves First Judicial Nomination Under New Filibuster Rules
After successfully changing filibuster rules for all Judicial and Executive Branch nominations except those to the Supreme Court two weeks ago, the Senate today approved its first judicial nomination under the new rules:
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Patricia Ann Millett to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, making her the first person to be forced through by Senate Democrats after they eliminated filibusters against executive branch nominees last month.
By a vote of 56-38, the Senate installed Ms. Millett, a former assistant solicitor general in both Democratic and Republican administrations, to what many consider the second-most-influential court in the nation. Her nomination was initially blocked by Republicans at the end of October.
With their new ability to thwart filibusters, Senate Democrats plan to confirm two more Obama administration nominees to the powerful appeals court before the end of the year, tipping the majority in favor of judges appointed by Democrats.
After the Millette vote, the Senate moved to invoke cloture on the nomination of Congressman Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, another nomination that had been blocked under the previously existing cloture rules. With the process to confirm nominees now effectively streamlined, one can expect the Senate to move forward on more of these nominations. It’s worth noting, however, that there are a number of other procedural rules that Senate Republicans could utilize that would, at the very least, slow down the confirmation process significantly, such as insisting on utilizing the full amount of debate time reserved under existing rules for each nomination rather than, as is typical, utilizing only a portion of that time and proceeding immediately to a vote.