Senate advances Ninth Circuit nominee

The Senate voted 56-41 Thursday to end debate on the nomination of Michelle Friedland to be U.S. Circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit. 

Under the rules, there will be up to 30 hours of debate, but Republicans and Democrats can yield back time to expedite final confirmation.

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On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on Friedland’s nomination in addition to the nomination of David Weil to be administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Reid said he hopes to reach agreement with Republicans to expedite the voting process, so the Senate could finish work on both nominations before leaving for a two-week Easter recess. 

“There are two votes we need to have before we leave here this week,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We have to finish these two matters before we leave for the week.”

Immediately after final confirmation on Friedland, the Senate will move to end debate on Weil’s nomination, which would require up to eight hours of debate after cloture is invoked. 

Even if Republicans refuse to budge, work could be completed on both nominations by Friday evening since Democrats could yield back their debate time.

Last year, Senate Democrats unilaterally voted to change the Senate rules allowing a simple majority to advance most nominations instead of the previously required 60-votes. Republicans have complained this rule change greatly undermined minority party rights in the Senate.

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