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Senate Confirms Obama Nominee Under New Filibuster Rules

President Obama introduces Patricia Millett in June.

Senate Republicans warned Democrats of the grave consequences of going “nuclear” with filibuster rules, saying it would destroy comity and come back to haunt them when they’re in the minority.

But Democrats went ahead and changed the rules anyway, and now we’re seeing what a nuclear explosion looks like in the Senate: a noncontroversial judge was approved by a majority vote, 56-38.

Patricia Millett’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit makes her the first nominee to move forward in a post-filibuster reform world. Democrats have plenty of other nominees lined up behind her now that it only takes 51 votes to advance executive and judicial nominees (except for Supreme Court nominees, who still require 60 votes).

A senior Democratic aide said the Senate will vote on about a dozen nominees before adjourning for the year, including some, like Millett, who Republicans previously filibustered for reasons that have nothing to do with their credentials. They include two other D.C. Circuit nominees, Janet Yellen for the Federal Reserve and Mel Watt for the Federal Housing Finance Agency. All are expected to get confirmed this time around, many with GOP support.

President Barack Obama praised the Senate’s action and noted that Millett’s vote passed with some GOP support. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for her confirmation.

“I’m pleased that in a bipartisan vote, the Senate has confirmed Patricia Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filling a vacancy that has been open since 2005,” Obama said in a statement. “She has served in the Department of Justice for both Democratic and Republican Presidents. I’m confident she will serve with distinction on the federal bench.”

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