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Senate Dems to push Obama nominees

| Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 6:42 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Fresh from shackling the traditional blocking ability of the Senate's minority party, Democrats are ready to muscle through President Obama's nominees for pivotal judgeships and other top jobs.

Despite a Democratic power play in November, Senate Republicans retain the power to slow, though not derail, Obama's appointments.

Left unchanged were other rules that the out-of-power party could use to grind the chamber's work to an excruciating crawl. That ranges from requiring clerks to read voluminous bills and amendments to forcing repeated procedural votes.

“There are so many ways of slowing things down in the Senate,” said Robert Dove, the Senate's former longtime parliamentarian.

Monday will start a two-week, year-end Senate session in which Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hopes to finish work on a modest budget deal, a Defense bill and other lingering items.

Monday's meeting will be the chamber's first since irritable lawmakers left town on Nov. 21 for Thanksgiving break. Earlier that day, Democrats used their 55-45 edge to reshape how filibusters work, changing the number of votes needed to halt procedural delays against most nominations from 60 to a simple majority.

Democrats could make GOP delays as painful as possible, such as keeping the Senate in all night and on weekends.

“We're going to seek to achieve as much as we possibly can and hope Republicans will cooperate with us, instead of just using knee-jerk obstruction,” said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Reid.

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