Senate advances another D.C. Circuit nominee

The Senate voted 56-42 Tuesday to end debate on the nomination of Nina Pillard to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court.

Earlier Tuesday, Democrats took advantage of the filibuster rule change by approve two more of President Obama’s nominees that had been held up by Republicans earlier this year.

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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 also voted 56-38 Tuesday to confirm Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court — the second most important court because it has jurisdiction over most federal agencies.

There will be up to 30 hours of debate on Pillard’s nomination before she is confirmed later this week.

GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats to invoke cloture.