Senate Democrats began to capitalize on their historic rules change by confirming the first of three judicial nominees to a powerful circuit court.
The Senate voted 56-38 on Tuesday to approve Patricia Millett’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, generally viewed as the second-most powerful court in the United States after the Supreme Court.
Millett is the first nominee approved by the Senate not subject to clearing a 60-vote threshold after Democrats voted in November to effectively scrap the filibuster on most presidential nominations.
On Halloween, Senate Republicans used the filibuster to block the nominations of Millett and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to a key housing regulator and two more nominees to the D.C. Circuit in November, Robert Wilkins and Nina Pillard. The impasse prompted Democrats to invoke a rules change by a majority vote — known as the “nuclear option” — that allows all of Obama’s nominees save for those to the Supreme Court to move through the Senate with no Republican votes.