“Mr. Phillips has all the characteristics necessary to serve as an appellate judge,” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said ahead of the vote. “He’s regarded as a talented and respected attorney.”
“Phillips will be an outstanding judge,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) added.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said judicial nominees shouldn’t be about “partisan tit-for-tat” and said he hopes the Senate will confirm several other Obama nominees later this week.
If Republicans continue to block Obama's cabinet nominees, some Democrats have pushed for the "nuclear option" — changing the rules on a simple-majority vote — but it is unclear if it will come to that.