WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are pushing to confirm roughly 20 of President Barack Obama's nominees in the final days of the lame-duck session — and before the Republicans grab the majority next month.
In a rare Saturday session, the Senate held a series of procedural votes to move ahead on the nominees, including the surgeon general choice, the pick to head Customs and Immigration Enforcement and the nominee to be the nation's No. 2 diplomat. About a dozen judicial nominees also hang in the balance.
Among the nominees are:
Carolyn Colvin, for a six-year term as commissioner of the Social Security Administration. All 11 Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee said there is evidence that Social Security officials misled Congress and investigators about a $300 million computer project that doesn't work.
Colvin, the acting commissioner since February 2013, told The Associated Press in an interview that she has always met the highest ethical standards.
Vivek Murthy, to be surgeon general. Nominated more than a year ago, Murthy drew the opposition of the National Rifle Association over his support for gun control, which he expressed in both a tweet and a letter he sent to Congress as president of Doctors for America following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Murthy has said he wouldn't use the position as a bully pulpit for gun control.
Sarah Saldana, to head Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Republicans have opposed Saldana over her support for Obama's executive actions on immigration. Texas' senior senator, Republican John Cornyn, had backed the U.S. attorney in Dallas earlier this year, but Obama's move to lift the threat of deportation for millions here illegally changed that. Cornyn said he could no longer support Saldana.
Tony Blinken, to be deputy secretary of state. Republican Sen. John McCain and other GOP senators have opposed the nominee for the job of America's No. 2 diplomat. McCain has argued that Blinken, now Obama's deputy national security adviser, isn't qualified because of comments he made in 2012 touting Iraq's security, prosperity and democracy.
Among other nominees is Frank Rose, to be assistant secretary of state.