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Reid sets sights on clearing White House nominations

 Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid plans t omove on nominees. (EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) plans to move on nominees. (Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Senate Democrats this week plan to push forward on a handful of key White House nominations, a move likely to reignite debate over executive and judicial nominations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set in motion a series of procedural votes, filing cloture motions on five of President Obama’s picks for executive positions and one judicial nomination. Each will need 60 votes for the Senate to proceed to a vote on the nomination itself.

“It’s time to move forward without delay and fill those crucial posts,” Reid said on the  Senate floor.

The list includes  Alan Estevez to be principal deputy undersecretary of Defense; Katherine Archuleta to be director of the Office of Personnel Management; Thomas Wheeler to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission; Jack Lew to positions at the International Monetary Fund and other international banks; and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to be director of the Federal Housing Agency.

Reid also sought a vote on Patricia Millett  to be U.S. circuit judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Timing is uncertain, but the vote will occur on the Estevez nomination Wednesday, Reid announced, with the other votes following that.

The nomination push, particularly for judges, is likely to meet with resistance from Republicans and restart the debate over whether nominations should require 60 votes.  Republicans signaled that at least on judicial nominations, they were planning to make noise. “Republicans should remain united in blocking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Sen. John Cornyn wrote last week in an op-ed on the FOX News Web site.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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