The Senate voted tonight to invoke cloture on the nomination of Patricia Smith to be solicitor in the Department of Labor. The final vote was 60-32. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture, of course, and the clinching vote was cast by Senator Paul Kirk (D-MA). (The roll call vote can be viewed here--it was entirely down party lines.) This is to say, the unfortunate nomination of Smith would have been squashed had Senator-elect Scott Brown been sworn into office.
Senator Johnny Isakson blasted his Democratic colleagues:
"The Senate should not tolerate a nominee intentionally misleading a standing committee of this body. My guess is that the Democrat majority would not have stood for that under the previous administration and they shouldn’t stand for it today ...I think the proactive enforcement of labor law should be vigilantly looking for violations and vigilantly pursuing correction. It should not be vigilantly looking for someone you can put out of business and cost the jobs of the employees of that small business."
Isakson previously wrote a letter to the president asking him to withdraw this nominee. (Several other colleagues, including the ranking member of the HELP Committee, Senator Enzi, also wrote letters to the president, requesting that Smith's nomination be withdrawn.)
The final vote for Smith is expected later this week, but now there is hardly a chance that her nomination will be thwarted.
This is a big week for the Obama administration, which is intent on shoving through as much as it can while it still has 60 votes in the Senate. The takeaway point is this: Why is Paul Kirk still voting?