The U.S. Senate, late on Thursday night, agreed to delay a vote until January to confirm Janet Yellen's selection to the top post at the Federal Reserve, even as the lawmakers reached a deal to confirm the appointment of three other officials nominated by President Barack Obama for top government positions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proposed to hold the vote on Jan. 6, when the Senate returns after a two-week vacation, instead of by Saturday, and lawmakers agreed to the proposal, which would avoid a weekend session before the holidays. Meanwhile, the confirmation of three other key appointments eased the rift between Senate Democrats and Republicans that emerged over new Senate rules on the confirmation of presidential picks for top federal posts.
"I think the solution to this is not to throw daggers at each other but to sit down and talk this through," Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said on the Senate floor shortly after the agreement was announced, the Washington Post reported.
The Senate on Friday will consider the nominations of Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security; John Koskinen for the post of commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service; and Brian Davis, to serve as federal district court judge in Florida. Davis has waited more than 20 months for a confirmation vote, while Mayorkas' nomination is opposed by the Republicans over allegations that he mismanaged a visa program for foreign investors. Mayorkas currently holds the post of director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Including Yellen's, 10 nominations are awaiting Senate confirmation while Republicans, furious over a new rule that now requires only a simple majority of senators to agree to end a nomination debate, had vowed to prolong the debate on each nominee, pushing the voting to late-night or early morning hours.
Reid, who had reportedly lined up most of the backlogged nomination confirmations for voting by the year end, had insisted on continuing the session until all the nominations were voted on before the session adjourned for the holidays. However, the current agreement could expedite the process of confirmation of at least three nominations that are set to get voted Friday, while other nominations that could see prolonged debate, such as that of Yellen's, would only be voted on after the holiday break.
If confirmed, Yellen, 67, will replace Ben Bernanke, whose term as Fed chairman expires on Jan. 31, and she would make history as the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100 years of existence.