Newly-confirmed ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte. (Luis Romero/AP)

Aponte had served as ambassador there for 15 months after President Obama gave her a temporary recess appointment to the job. But Republicans, citing concerns that her long-ago boyfriend was a Cuban spy and an op-ed she wrote last summer supporting gay rights blocked her from serving after that appointment expired at the end of last year.

Talks at that time between Senate Democrats and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in December to break the filibuster proved fruitless, ending in bitter recriminations on both sides.

Nine Republicans voted Thursday to end the filibuster: Rubio and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), and Scott Brown (Mass.). Rubio, Lugar, Snow, Ayotte, Murkowski and McCain voted against breaking the filibuster last time.