The U.S. Senate confirmed two cabinet nominees today who had waited since March for an up or down vote in the chamber. The nominations moved forward thanks to a deal negotiated earlier this week. Six Republicans joined the whole Democratic caucus to pass a cloture motion ending debate on the nomination of Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor by 60 votes to 40 (roll call). Shortly thereafter, senators confirmed Perez on a straight party-line vote of 54 to 46. Mike Memoli reported that the “Senate Historian can’t find another example” of a cabinet nominee being confirmed on a strict party-line vote. Iowa’s Democratic Senator Tom Harkin voted for cloture and confirmation; Republican Chuck Grassley voted against Perez both times. He did not support the deal designed to reduce filibusters on executive branch nominations.
Later today, senators passed a cloture motion ending debate on Gina McCarthy’s nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency by a more comfortable 69 to 31 margin. McCarthy was then confirmed by 59 votes to 40. Again, Harkin supported McCarthy, while Grassley voted against both cloture and her confirmation.