The Senate's vote on Thursday to change its rules and approve presidential appointments by a simple majority, presents new opportunities for the president. Until now, dozens of appointments to the administration and the federal bench have been held up because they could not get the needed 60 votes in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (from left), Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois defend the Senate Democrats' vote Thursday to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts.
For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.
The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.
Governor Robert Bentley has announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing Alabama with $1.8 million in grants help fund emergency housing initiatives.
Bentley says that the grants will "prevent homelessness by giving a helping hand to Alabamians at a time of critical need."
The money is being provided by the Emergency Solutions Grant program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funding is meant to help agencies provide shelter, legal and health services and financial consulting.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to the media on Thursday after passing the so-called nuclear option, which changes the Senate rules to eliminate the use of the filibuster on presidential nominees except those to the Supreme Court.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:48 pm
The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.
By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.
Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, journalist Paul Salopek started walking a while ago. He'll keep walking for seven years. He's following the development of mankind from Ethiopia all the way to the bottom of South America. And we'll talk about how students in cities across the U.S. are falling in his footsteps. That's in a few minutes.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:09 pm
(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)
There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.
In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.
By a 14-8 vote that saw three Republicans join 11 Democrats in saying "aye," the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next head of the Federal Reserve.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Jefferson County commissioners have voted to approve the sale of $1.7 billion in sewer warrants to exit its historic bankruptcy. Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Bennett for the Northern District of Alabama must approve of the county's bankruptcy exit plan and is presiding over a hearing that started Wednesday. Jefferson County's bankruptcy in November 2011 was the largest governmental bankruptcy in U.S. history until Detroit filed one this year for $18 billion. Part of it has been wiped out by creditors.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's parole board has approved of granting posthumous pardons in the infamous "Scottsboro Boys" rape case. The board made the decision during a Thursday morning hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice in the Deep South in the 1930s. Nine black males were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931. The men were convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant were sentenced to death.
President Obama met with state insurance commissioners to discuss changes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some commissioners are in a difficult spot because their states passed laws that prohibit policies that don't comply with the law. Now, the president says companies can keep offering non-compliant policies for another year if they want to.
The fourth episode of the web-only series Alpha House goes live on Amazon Prime on Friday. The political comedy stars John Goodman and was created and written by Garry Trudeau of "Doonesbury" fame. It's about four Republican senators living in a house and is loosely based on a real Capitol Hill living arrangement.
On the evening of Nov. 21, 1963, President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, walked through a wall of applause to take their place as honored guests in a Houston ballroom. They were making a brief stop at a formal dinner held by LULAC — the League of United Latin American Citizens — to show their appreciation for the Mexican-American votes that had helped the young president carry Texas in the 1960 election.