By Ramsey Cox
The Senate starts at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and will spend most of the day debating a tax extender bill and voting on President Obama's judicial nominations.
Later in the day, Senate Democrats will see if enough Republicans will join them in overcoming procedural hurdles to passing the tax extender bill. They'll need at least five GOP votes.
The cloture vote Thursday is on the amendment from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which is the bill language of the EXPIRE Act, S. 2260.
The more than $85 billion tax bill has bipartisan support and would extend more than 50 credits for two years. But Republicans have also called for the consideration of their own amendments. A fight over amendments killed an energy efficiency bill earlier this week.
Republicans are expected to complain Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the bill without allowing any Republican amendments.
The Senate will vote at 11:15 a.m. to end debate on three nominees to be U.S. district judges for Arizona: Rosemary Marquez, Douglas Rayes and James Soto. If cloture is invoked, the nominees will be confirmed around 2 p.m.
After the first three cloture votes, the Senate will vote on the confirmations of Leslie Caldwell to be an assistant attorney general and Helen La Lime to be U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Angola. They are expected to be confirmed by voice-vote.
The Senate will also vote around 3 p.m. to end debate on the nomination of Gregg Jeffrey Costa to be a United States circuit judge for the Fifth Circuit, but his final confirmation won't occur until next week.
The House is not in session this week.