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July 31, 2015

Senate All-Nighter on Tap for Nominations (Video)

(Courtesy Senate Historical Office)

(Courtesy Senate Historical Office)

It may be time once again for senators to pull out the cots.

The Senate looked poised for an all-night session Wednesday to work through the process of confirming an assortment of President Barack Obama’s nominees to posts ranging from federal judgeships to the top official at the Department of Homeland Security.

“Whatever it is, we’re going to do it,” to get the nominations considered on the floor by week’s end, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Roll call votes are possible at any time this afternoon or this evening,” Reid said.

The Senate Historical Office defines all-night sessions of the Senate as those sessions running past 4 a.m.

If all of the remaining debate time is used up on the nomination of Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Senate would vote to confirm Pillard at around 1 a.m. Thursday. After that, the Senate vote to limit debate on the nomination of Chai Rachel Feldblum to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would take place automatically. Feldblum’s nomination would have up to eight hours of debate, but Democrats could yield back up to four hours of that.

Nine additional nominations are already pending in the queue after Feldblum, under the series of motions that Reid filed Monday evening. That doesn’t include the nomination of Janet L. Yellen to become chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

“Republicans are not facing reality. They’re not,” Reid said. “We’re eating up days of time” plodding through debate on nominees.

Of course, the Republican resistance to yielding back time is an outgrowth of the Democratic majority’s move to change Senate precedent on nominations using the “nuclear option” so that only a majority of senators are now required to break a filibuster. The previous threshold was 60 votes.

“This is why the rules were changed … you can see it right now. We are waiting hour after hour doing nothing,” Reid said.

Speaking after Reid on the floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated comments made to reporters Tuesday criticizing Reid’s scheduling decision to file debate limiting motions, known as cloture, on the 10 nominations Monday evening and thus set up the process.

“He’s the one in charge of the schedule,” the Kentucky Republican said. “It was his choice to spend the week on nominations that are not emergencies.”

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