In the shadow of a dramatic showdown over the filibuster of White House nominations, the Senate voted to advance the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The 71-29 cloture vote means the nomination overcame the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster and bring the nomination up for an up-or-down vote before the Senate.
Cordray had waited almost two years for this day, but looking at the larger picture, the vote is significant because it cools tensions between Republicans and Democrats. As Mark reported, before a rare closed-door session yesterday in which all 100 senators were invited, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened to use the "nuclear option" to advance President Obama's nominations. That means Reid would change "the chamber's rules to make it much harder for the minority party to filibuster."
The Washington Post reports that today's vote was a test for a "tentative deal" that avoids the constitutional showdown.
Our friend Frank James explained the showdown at length over at It's All Politics. The Post also has a quick explainer on the fight.
Note at 3:55 p.m. ET. On Cordray's Nomination:
In the excerpt below from the Los Angeles Times, there was a reference to Cordray's nomination having been blocked since last year. As we wrote above, though, it's been two years since he was nominated. To avoid confusion, we've removed the reference to "last year" from the Times' excerpt.
Update at 11:41 a.m. ET. What's The Deal?:
Politico and the Los Angeles Times are reporting some details of the deal that led to this vote. The Times sums up:
"Senate officials said that under the tentative deal, the Senate would approve five nominees who have been stalled, including President Obama's pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. ... The list would also include Obama's choices to head the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"... According to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), two nominees for the National Labor Relations Board would be dropped, but under the agreement, Obama will immediately make two new nominations which will be considered by the Senate under expedited procedures designed to have them in office by August."
Of course, the Republican end of the bargain is that the Senate rules remain intact. That is, a nomination needs 60 votes before it can move forward.
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