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Senate Squeaks Out Vote on Nominee at Start of Busy Stretch

The Senate began the four-week work stretch Monday by confirming a judicial nominee, one of just a few that are likely as Members hope to race through a heavy legislative agenda and quickly return home to campaign before Nov. 2.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought to map out the week on Monday by calling for the swift passage of a long-stalled small-business jobs package.

“The owners of these businesses aren’t interested in our partisan rhetoric — and neither are the people they’ve had to lay off, or the unemployed they’ve had to turn away,” he said in his first floor address following the five-week August break. “People in Nevada and throughout the nation are too busy keeping track of their business’ books or their family’s budget to keep track of who’s scoring cheap political points.”

The bill is expected to pass this week with the help of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), whose vote brings the number of supporters to 60. The chamber will first consider an amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would repeal part of the health care law affecting small businesses. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Although the nomination of Jane Stranch to serve on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals easily won Senate approval Monday, it is unclear how many other nominees will clear this work period. Sixteen judicial nominations remain pending on the Senate calendar, and with a busy legislative agenda that includes passing a small-business jobs bill, a continuing resolution and potentially a defense authorization, little floor time remains to consider nominees. The Senate voted 71-21 to confirm Stranch.

Still, President Barack Obama renominated five judicial nominees Monday, and they are expected to be considered in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The Senate sent the five picks back to the White House last month before adjourning for the recess. They are Edward Chen, nominated to be district judge for the northern district of California; Louis Butler, nominated to be district judge for the western district of Wisconsin; John McConnell, nominated to be district judge for the district of Rhode Island; Goodwin Liu to be circuit judge for the 9th Circuit; and Robert Chatigny to be circuit judge for the 2nd Circuit.

Obama also renominated Peter Diamond to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Republicans were angered when Obama used a recess appointment to install Berwick to the post in July, and that appointment expires at the end of next year.

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