Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Senate confirmed Atty. Patricia Ann Millett as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday.
Millett was the first Obama nominee to be confirmed since Democrats changed the rule in voting for nominations below the level of the Supreme Court using the so-called nuclear option. The DC attorney was confirmed via a 56-38 vote, five more votes than the required 51 votes needed to end debate on her confirmation under the new Senate rule.
Obama was pleased with Millett’s filling of a vacancy that has been open since 2005 and expressed confidence on the leading appellate lawyer with 32 arguments made before the Supreme Court, the second-most by a female advocate. Millett also served in the Department of Justice for both Democratic and Republican Presidents.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, was not pleased by the confirmation describing it as a power grab and attempt by Democrats to pack the courts.
The D.C. Circuit is often considered the second most powerful court in the country because most federal agencies are under its jurisdiction. Millett will be the sixth woman to serve on the influential court.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mel Watt’s (D-N.C.) is expected to become the second Obama nominee to be confirmed since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) invoked the nuclear option to change Senate voting rules so that only a simple majority or 51 rather than 60 votes are required to approve executive and judicial nominations other than those to the Supreme Court.
The Senate voted 57 to 40 to set up eight hours of debate on Watt’s nomination to the Federal Housing Finance Agency later Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Watt, whose nomination was first rejected by the Senate in October, is taking over from acting Director Edward DeMarco this week.