* Expected to be Senate's final vote of year
* Anticipated confirmation set for Jan. 6
* Senate expected to confirm on Friday new IRS chief
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON, Dec 20 The Democratic-led U.S.
Senate is expected to wrap up its work for the year on Friday by
moving to clear President Barack Obama's nomination of Janet
Yellen to head the Federal Reserve.
But under a bipartisan agreement reached on Thursday, the
Senate will not vote to confirm Yellen, now the Fed's vice
chair, until Jan. 6, the day it returns for the new year. She
would replace Ben Bernanke, whose term ends in late January.
The Senate is to vote at about mid-day on Friday on whether
to bring debate on Yellen to a close. To prevail on this test
vote and advance the nomination, Obama's Democrats, who hold the
Senate, 55-45, need a simple majority and seem certain to get
Friday's vote on Yellen is expected to be the final Senate
vote of the year.
Under the bipartisan agreement, the Senate on Friday is also
expected to confirm three other Obama nominees: Alejandro
Mayorkas as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security; John Koskinen to head the Internal Revenue Service,
and Brian Davis to be a federal judge in Florida.
Republicans refused requests by Democrats to carry over
until next year six other Obama nominees, all to relatively
That means they face the prospect of having to start the
confirmation process all over again with Obama renominating
The stage was set for this end-of-year confirmation battle
when Democrats changed the Senate rules last month to strip
Republicans of their power to block most of Obama's nominees
with procedural roadblocks known as filibusters.
Republicans accused Democrats of an unwarranted power grab.
Democrats said they did it to combat unprecedented Republican
Under the new rules, a nominee needs the support of only a
simple majority of the 100-member Senate, rather than the
earlier 60, to be confirmed.
The change, however, did not strip Republicans of their
ability to slow down matters by refusing to yield back allotted
debate time, which for a Cabinet-level nominee such as Yellen is
30 hours. For most lower-level picks, Democrats and Republicans
get four hours each.
Earlier Thursday, before reaching an agreement with
Republicans to end gridlock on the nominees, Reid vowed to get
all the picks confirmed and aimed to get Yellen approved on
"These are crucial nominations, and if that means working
through the weekend and next week, so be it," Reid said.
Assistant Senate Republican Leader John Cornyn said, "The
irony is that none of these nominations are particularly
"Even Ms. Yellen - Bernanke's term doesn't end until the end
of January - so this is all gratuitous from my perspective,"
McConnell said he would oppose the IRS nominee, denouncing
as inadequate a probe into the tax-collection agency's "abuse of
power" in targeting conservative groups for added scrutiny.
"The American people deserve answers about how and why this
targeting happened," McConnell said. "And I will not be
supporting any nominee to lead this agency until the American
people get the answers they deserve."
Reid urged confirmation of Koskinen to head the IRS, saying,
"With all the problems we've had with the Internal Revenue
Service ... we need to have someone running that agency."