Senate approves first nominee since ‘nuclear option’

In the first confirmation vote since Democrats changed the Senate’s filibuster rules by invoking the “nuclear option,” the upper chamber has approved Patricia Millett's nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Millett, who will be only the sixth woman to serve on the influential court, was approved on a 56-38 vote.

President Barack Obama praised her confirmation and said "confident she will serve with distinction on the federal bench."

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outraged Republicans by changing filibuster rules to require only a simple majority – rather than 60 votes - to approve executive and judicial nominations other than those to the Supreme Court.

Reid said the move was necessary after Republicans blocked a series of judicial and executive nominees, citing disapproval of the president's agenda rather than specific concerns about the individuals awaiting confirmation.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Reid’s move “a power grab.”

"This vote isn't about any one nominee. It not about Patricia Millett. It's about an attitude on the left that says the ends justify the means," he said. 

The Senate is set to consider another previously blocked nominee Tuesday, Federal Housing Finance Agency pick Rep. Mel Watt.