Dems block GOP challenge of rule change

Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to challenge a Senate rule change that allows the majority to end debate on a nominee with a simple majority.

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted with Republicans against the rule of the chair on Tuesday.

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Last month, Senate Democrats unilaterally changed the rules. The rule change means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court.

The move outraged Republicans, who said Democrats had severely undermined minority rights in the upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the nuclear option to make the change. It allows the Senate’s rules to be changed by a majority vote.

The Senate is voting to end debate on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to be the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt could be confirmed as earlier as Tuesday evening.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court, making her the first nominee of President Obama’s to clear the Senate since the filibuster rule change.