Senate leaders reached a deal late Thursday to confirm three more of President Obama's nominees to top government positions, but delayed a vote until January to confirm the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated to serve as deputy secretary of homeland security. (AP)

With the start of a two-week recess fast-approaching, the agreement appeared to ease more than a week of tension between Democrats and Republicans over the confirmation of several picks to lead federal agencies and serve on federal courts following changes to how the Senate confirms most nominees.

Senators planned to complete work late Thursday on the annual defense policy bill and meet again Friday morning to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; John Koskinen to lead the Internal Revenue Service; and Brian Davis, to serve as federal district court judge in Florida. Davis has waited more than 650 days for a confirmation vote.