WASHINGTON — A bipartisan Senate pact has smoothed the confirmation path for a batch of President Barack Obama’s nominations and removed, for now, a Democratic threat to impose procedural changes weakening minority Republicans’ clout. Yet there are no guarantees that the conflict won’t flare anew the next time a White House appointment stirs controversy.
A day after both parties celebrated an agreement averting a bitter fight over Senate rules, the chamber planned to vote today on one of Obama’s picks, Fred Hochberg to be president of the Export-Import Bank.
Also possible this week are roll calls on Labor Secretary-designate Tom Perez and Gina McCarthy, Obama’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
On Tuesday, Republicans agreed to allow quick votes on seven Obama selections by simple majority margins, rather than forcing Democrats to garner 60 votes to succeed. Hours later, the Senate by 66-34 approved the first of those appointments, confirming Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — after Republicans had blocked him for nearly two years as they demanded changes in the agency’s structure and financing.
In a written statement, Obama thanked Senate leaders for working out their dispute but criticized his opponents for using “purely political reasons” to stall the nominations.