Senate holding rare Saturday vote on Fed pick Janet Yellen
Democrats had hoped to confirm on Yellen on Thursday or Friday, and then adjourn for the year. But they failed to get a time agreement with Republicans to speed up the process.
A senior Democratic aide said that unless a time agreement is suddenly reached, the Senate would begin consideration at close to midnight EST on Thursday (0500 GMT Friday) of Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the first of four of Obama's pending nominees.
The stage was set for this end-of-year battle when Democrats, who hold the Senate, 55-45, changed the rules last month to strip Republicans of their power to block most of Obama's nominees with procedural roadblocks known as filibusters.
The change, however, did not strip Republicans of their ability to slow down matters by refusing to yield back allotted debate time, which for a Cabinet-level nominee like Yellen is 30 hours.
Earlier Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of obstructionism, and vowed to get the nominees confirmed.
Assistant Senate Republican Leader John Cornyn said, "The irony is that none of these nominations are particularly urgent."
After the Senate votes on Yellen, it could begin consideration of six more nominees, all of them for relatively lower-level posts.
Any nominee not confirmed by the end of the year would face the prospect of having to begin the process all over again next year with Obama renominating them.
Supporters eager for Hillary's return to NH
Ayotte pushes bill to combat 'spice'
Mark Hayward's City Matters: Dean Kamen is a genius inventor, and he's pretty good at oratory, too
Casino gambles: Hopes dashed all over