Senate deal on confirmations averts filibuster "nuclear option"


The US Senate passed a modest reform bill on the filibuster late Thursday night.


Toby Jorrin

Senators have reached a tentative deal to confirm several of President Barack Obama's nominees - averting a Democratic plan to change filibuster rules with the so-called "nuclear option".

Obama's nominee confirmations have stalled in the Senate because of threats of a filibuster, which would require 60 votes to confirm rather than a simple majority of 50.

As part of the deal, Obama would replace two of the nominees to the National Labor Relations Board — Sharon Block and Richard Griffin — whose nominations would have trouble being confirmed.

Five other nominees including Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary would be allowed to go through without any filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), announced the deal minutes before a scheduled vote on Obama’s pick for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray.

"I think it [the deal] is going to be something that is good for the Senate," Reid told POLITICO Tuesday morning before the Cordray vote.

"It is a compromise, and I think we get what we want, they get what they want. Not a bad deal."

Cordray's nomination went through with 71 votes, two years after his nomination. A final vote is expected Tuesday afternoon.

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The deal does not change any of the Senate rules around filibusters and Republicans made no commitment not to filibuster future nominees.

And Reid retained his right to threaten to change the rules.

The last minute deal is expected to thaw relations on both sides of the aisle and avert the "nuclear option" of a rules change.

The "nuclear option", which Democrats had threatened to carry out, would change historic Senate rules so presidential nominees could be confirmed by a simple majority vote.