Actually given the coming changing of the guard when Scott Brown is sworn in as the newest senator and the Republicans gain 41 votes in the Senate, yesterday’s cloture vote on Smith was actually more like “a giant leap” as the votes for her confirmation later this week are assured. Dems Break GOP Filibuster Of Routine Nomination
It now seems that it will be Senator Brown before the cloture vote on NLRB nominee Craig Becker. Latest reports are that Brown will be sworn in tomorrow, the same day the Becker nomination is scheduled to go before the HELP Committee, where a Democratic majority should ensure a favorable vote. However, that just sets up a cloture vote. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats make Becker the first key cloture vote after the Republicans have 41 votes. Although Becker had two Republican votes in the Committee last session, it is unclear that they will be there this time around.
Obviously, action or inaction in the Senate (depending on your point of view) is going to be a key partisan theme in this year’s Congressional election. Hard to imagine that a nominee to the NLRB would turn out to be Exhibit A in that debate, but that could very well be the case.
Update 2.4.10: The Washington Post is reporting, that as expected, Patricia Smith was confirmed as the Solicitor of Labor today by a vote of 60-37. Although it came before Scott Brown was sworn in, his vote would not have been sufficient to defeat her confirmation. She is the third highest official in the DOL and the top lawyer.