* Republicans accused of "temper-tantrum talkathon"
* 11 nominees expected to be confirmed by Saturday
* Those not confirmed may have to start all over again
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON, Dec 12 The Democratic-led U.S.
Senate on Thursday approved six of President Barack Obama's
nominees, including four judges, on the second day of its
around-the-clock confirmation marathon that Republicans were
unable to stop because of a rule change.
The Democratic show of force is expected to come to a close
on Saturday with the anticipated confirmation of an 11th Obama
nominee in three days - Jeh Johnson to serve as secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security.
"Every one of them will be confirmed," said Senate
Democratic leader Harry Reid.
At about 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT) on Thursday, the Senate
capped hours of debate and confirmed the first nominee in its
non-stop session - Nina Pillard to the U.S. Circuit Court for
the District of Columbia, on a vote of 51-44.
By late in the day, it approved five more:
* Chai Rachel Feldblum, of Washington, D.C., on a 54-41
vote, to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity
* Elizabeth Wolford, of New York, on a 70-29 vote, to be a
U.S. district judge for New York's western district.
* Landya McCafferty, of New Hampshire, on a 79-19 vote, to
be a U.S. district judge for the district of New Hampshire.
* Patricia Wald, of Washington, D.C., to be a member of the
U.S. Privacy and Civil Rights Oversight Board, on a 57-41 vote.
* Brian Morris of Montana, on a 75-20 vote, to be a U.S.
district court judge in his state.
Democrats cleared the way by stripping Republicans last
month of their power to block nominees with a procedural
roadblock known as a filibuster.
Democrats, who hold the Senate 55-45, reduced from 60 to a
simple majority the number of votes needed to end filibusters
against all nominees except those for the Supreme Court.
CHARGES OF 'OBSTRUCTIONISM' AND 'POWER GRAB'
Democrats said they did it to combat "unprecedented
obstructionism" by Republicans that prevented Obama from getting
much of his second-term team in place.
Republicans charged that the rule change amounted to a
"power grab" that eroded the rights the Senate minority and will
dramatically alter how the chamber operates.
While Republicans can no longer filibuster the nominees,
they can still slow down the confirmation process by refusing to
yield back their allotted time to debate each pick - or simply
talk about whatever they want.
Democrats accused Republicans of a "temper-tantrum
talkathon" by using much of their time to rip into Obama's
healthcare program and to denounce Democrats for the filibuster
"Shame on you," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of
South Carolina, predicting that the change will lead to less
bipartisanship and a far more partisan judiciary.
"They have changed the face of the judiciary probably for
ever," Graham said, adding future judicial picks will likely be
those "most faithful to the cause, not most faithful to the
The Senate is expected to take Sunday off and return early
next week to confirm about a dozen more nominees, likely
beginning with Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve and
Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court.
"If we have to work through Christmas, we will work right
through Christmas," Reid said.
There are about 75 nominees pending before the Senate.
Any not confirmed by Dec. 31, the end of this session of
Congress, will have to be renominated or withdrawn - unless they
receive unanimous consent of the Senate to remain where they
are, ready for consideration.
Traditionally there is a backlog of unconfirmed nominees at
the end of each year. But Republicans upset by the rule change
may now be in no mood to provide any unanimous consents so they
can stay in line.