Filibusters Weakened, Senate Dems Move Obama Picks

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The nomination fight is intensifying at the start of what Reid has planned as a final two-week stretch before adjourning for the year. During that time he wants approval of an emerging budget deal, a huge defense bill and perhaps other measures.

Reid also wants the Senate to confirm four other major Obama nominees.

They are attorney Cornelia “Nina” Pillard and U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, whom Obama named to fill the two remaining D.C. circuit vacancies; Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve and Johnson.

All are expected to win approval.

Millett works in the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, one of the capital’s largest law firms. A Harvard Law School graduate, she served as an assistant to the solicitor general under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in confirming her Tuesday: Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Obama praised Millett’s confirmation, saying in a statement, “I’m confident she will serve with distinction on the federal bench.”

Watt has been a major target of Republicans, who say he is not qualified to lead the housing regulatory agency. Democrats say Republicans fear that Watt, a 21-year veteran of the House Financial Services Committee, will be too liberal.

Fannie and Freddie were bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 as both struggled to survive under the weight of mortgage loans that had gone bad. The two companies own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, worth about $5 trillion.

During the recent financial crisis, the government provided them with taxpayer aid totaling $187 billion. As the housing market has recovered, both have become profitable and have repaid $146 billion.

Members of both political parties want to wind down both Fannie and Freddie in hopes of reducing taxpayers’ risks. Republicans generally want federal regulators to force both companies to focus more on profitability, while Democrats want them to make housing loans more affordable for consumers.

Watt would replace Edward DeMarco, appointed by Bush.

(Photo: AP)

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