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Senate approves National Defense Authorization Act, moves on nominees

By Ted Barrett, CNN Senior Congressional Producer
updated 1:07 AM EST, Fri December 20, 2013
An all-night session had been a possibility because of an ugly standoff over presidential nominations and filibusters.
An all-night session had been a possibility because of an ugly standoff over presidential nominations and filibusters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act
  • NEW: Senate votes to break a filibuster on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas
  • Janet Yellen's nomination to lead the Federal Reserve delayed until January

(CNN) -- Senators voted late Thursday to approve a defense bill and end an ugly standoff over presidential nominations, averting a third overnight session in two weeks.

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act 84 to 15. It then voted 55 to 45 to break a filibuster on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to be the deputy secretary of Homeland Security.

On Friday morning, senators will begin a series of votes on the nominations of Mayorkas; John Koskinen to be commissioner of the IRS; and Brian Davis to be a federal district judge for Florida.

The confirmation vote on Janet Yellen to be chairwoman of the Federal Reserve has been pushed to January 6.

Progress has been difficult because the parties have been feuding over a new rule the majority Democrats forced through limiting filibusters over the objections of minority Republicans.

Before the agreement on the voting schedule, Republicans had insisted on all time allowed for floor debate, even if no one was talking. Such a process would have kept senators working all night and through most of Saturday, cutting their holiday break short.

CNN's Jonathan Helman and Ed Payne contributed to this report

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