Senate confirms Patterson to State position

The Senate voted 78-16 Monday to confirm Anne Patterson to be assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

The Senate is also expected to confirm the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security later Monday.

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The votes were agreed to last week to prevent the Senate from staying in all day Saturday. Senate Republicans had been insisting that the Senate stay in constantly, as a protest against a Democratic rule change that prevents filibusters against Obama administration nominees. They kept the Senate in session for more than two days straight last week.

Last month, Senate Democrats unilaterally voted to change the Senate filibuster rules.

The rule change means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court. Previously, 60 votes were needed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that he’d like to vote on several more executive and judicial nominees before the Senate adjourns for the holiday, including the nomination of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve and John Koskinen as director of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).