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Senate confirms Patricia Millett, Mel Watt using new majority rules

President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 4, 2013, to announce the nomination of Patricia A. Millett, right, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

This item has been updated.

Democrats successfully utilized new Senate rules Tuesday to confirm one of President Obama’s picks to serve on a key federal court and another to lead a federal housing agency.

Several more votes to confirm new federal judges and agency leaders are expected in the coming days, further cementing an historic change in Senate rules enacted in recent weeks.

Under new rules requiring just a majority of senators to agree to proceed to final debate on most confirmation votes, senators voted Tuesday morning 56 to 38 to confirm Patricia A. Millett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Later, senators confirmed Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) 57 to 41 to serve as the next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency,which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal home loan banks.