The D.C. Circuit Court finally has a new judge, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency will have a new director. Patricia Millett was confirmed this morning by the Senate with a 56-38 vote to a seat on the nation's second highest court, and Rep. Mel Watt cleared a procedural vote, 54-42, then moved directly to the final vote. Both had been filibustered by Republicans this fall.
Now that Senate Democrats finally reached the tipping point on Republican obstruction and gone nuclear, the Senate can start clearing out some nominations that have been hanging around, either previously blocked by Republicans or having never reached the floor because of the filibuster. Expect the last two weeks of the chamber's work to be focused on these nominations. Reid filed cloture on 10 more nominations Monday evening to be considered in the next few days, and there's a raft more that could come up next week.
Also expect Senate Republicans to squeal about the unfairness of it all. Consider what happened Monday evening when Senate Majority Leader asked Republicans to help speed things along, and unanimously confirm dozens of nominations that have been needlessly blocked.
A furious Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) objected to Reid’s request.Who knows? The administration and Senate majority could go absolutely crazy fulfilling their constitutional duties of, you know, doing stuff like governing. Republicans will continue to squawk about the rule change and they'll continue to use any and every means at their disposal to foot drag on these nominations and drag the process out as long as possible. But votes on those nominees who've already cleared their respective committees will happen and they will be confirmed. And a few parts of government can start functioning at full steam again.
“The Democratic majority changed the rules of the Senate in a way that creates a Senate without rules. So until I understand better how a United States senator is supposed to operate in a Senate without rules, I object,” Alexander shot back at Reid. [...]
Alexander dubbed the rules change “Obamacare 2” in the way it passed the Senate unilaterally — and predicted things will only head further south for the institution of the Senate.
“Who knows what the next power play will be?” Alexander asked.
8:30 AM PT: And speaking of foot dragging, McConnell is adding in one additional procedural vote to try to drag out Watt's confirmation, protesting the simple majority vote with which the Senate moved forward on the nomination.