Senate votes on executive nominees without nuclear fallout

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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WASHINGTON — The Senate aborted the “nuclear option” Tuesday, but the threat by Democratic leadership achieved the desired result as the chamber voted successfully to proceed confirming several executive nominees.

Immediately following Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Tuesday that a compromise had been reached, the Senate voted successfully to file cloture on the filibuster of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The 71-29 vote means the upper chamber can proceed to a final up or down confirmation of Cordray, with all 54 Democrats voting in support along with 17 Republicans. Tomorrow will mark two years since President Obama announced Cordray as his choice to lead the bureau.

Frustrated with the Senate Republicans’ hold on Cordray, the president appointed him to the position temporarily during a congressional recess in 2012 — a move that was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Reid credited Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain for the Republican support that led to the compromise and the vote, saying he “is the reason we’re at the point that we are.”

“Nobody was able to break through but for him. And he does it at his own peril,” the Nevada Democrat said, referring to the backlash Republicans may face from their own party for losing what congressional observers have described as Reid’s “game of chicken.”

Cordray is the first nominee expected to break up the legislative logjam the Senate’s advice-and-consent role of presidential appointees has become, including Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Thomas Perez as secretary of Labor.

“I think everyone will be happy. It is a compromise. I think we get what we want, and they get what they want. Not a bad deal,” Reid said before the Cordray vote.

Though a political victory for Democrats, that deal does include Republican concessions. Two appointees from the National Labor Relations Board, Richard Griffin and Sharon Block, will be removed and replaced with candidates carrying more Republican appeal.

The White House has yet to confirm its approval of the deal, but Cordray is tentatively expected to receive a full confirmation vote Tuesday afternoon.

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