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Senate Approves Filip; Vote Could Lead to More Movement on Nominations

Signaling a possible breakthrough in the ongoing nominations impasse, Senate Democrats on Monday afternoon quietly pushed through the stalled appointment of Mark Filip as deputy attorney general.

The approval came just days after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent a strongly worded letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, accusing the Bush administration of slow-walking Democratic appointments to several open commissions. Filip’s nomination had been stalled for weeks and for some time had been the subject of a hold by Majority Whip Dick Durbin. The Illinois Democrat had been looking to put pressure on new Attorney General Michael Mukasey to answer outstanding questions on torture and detainee abuse.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid, said Monday evening that the Majority Leader decided to push Filip’s nomination through in a sign of good faith to Bolten, who “pledged to improve the stalled nomination process.” Filip was approved by a voice vote.

Afterward, Durbin called Filip, a U.S. district judge in Chicago, “a good choice.” Durbin said Filip “has earned a solid reputation as a district court judge in the Northern District of Illinois and I believe he will make a good deputy attorney general.”

Executive nominations have been a point of contention for months, in both parties. The White House and Reid in particular have been at odds over appointments, including heading into the December recess when the two sides failed to reach an agreement over filling numerous outstanding posts. The standoff resulted in a near monthlong series of pro forma, or nonvoting, sessions to block the administration from making any controversial recess appointments while Senators were out of town.

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