In a vote after 1 a.m. EST Thursday,
The Senate then proceeded to end debate on Obama’s nominee to serve on the
In the meantime, senators took to the floor to continue the debate that began before Thanksgiving, after Democrats engaged in a controversial procedural maneuver to change Senate rules mid-session, lowering the threshold for cutting off some filibusters from a three-fifths majority to a simple majority.
Democrats began a two-week stint Monday with an attempt to clear a backlog of nominations, some long delayed by
After Feldblum, Democrats are seeking to confirm nine other presidential choices, including lower-court nominees and candidates for deputy secretary of State and secretary of the Air Force. Last on the list is Obama's nominee to lead the
But Republicans, using procedural mechanisms still at their disposal, are insisting on exhausting all time requirements for debate on the choices, as much as 30 hours in some cases. Typically, that time has been yielded back through informal agreements between the Democratic and Republican leaders so the Senate can move to other business.
To process the remaining nominees as quickly as possible, Senate Majority Leader
Republicans maintain, though, that some of the nominees Reid is seeking to confirm are hardly priorities, and that the Senate should use the time to consider such issues as a defense authorization bill or the budget.
Republicans used the session to criticize the Democrats' rule change as an assault on minority rights the Senate was designed to protect. Several also used the time to criticize Obama's healthcare law, the product of what they said was similar overreach.
"It's an attempt to shut out the American people from the political process," Sen.
Most senators, though, did not hang around in the wee hours after casting votes. But some Senate staff and security officers, among others, had to, as did a succession of junior Democrats who took shifts in the chair as presiding officers.
"About to take the 3-5 a.m. shift," freshman Sen.
"For those who can't sleep – find your antidote to