UPDATE 3-Fed chair pick Yellen faces Senate test vote on Friday
* Yellen's anticipated confirmation set for Jan. 6
* Senate to vote on Friday on IRS nominee
* Vote schedule part of end-of-year Senate deal
WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. Senate reset a test vote for Friday on President Barack Obama's nomination of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, with her confirmation expected on Jan. 6.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced the dates late on Thursday as part of an end-of-year agreement with Republicans on a number of Obama's pending nominees.
Earlier Thursday, Reid had intended to hold a vote on Friday on whether to end debate on Yellen, with a confirmation vote expected on Saturday.
Though the days for those votes changed, Yellen remained virtually certain to be confirmed to replace Ben Bernanke, whose term as chairman expires next month. Yellen is now the Fed's vice chair.
The Senate will vote to confirm her on Jan. 6, the first day it returns in the new year.
Under the agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans, the Senate is expected on Friday to confirm three other Obama nominees: Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; John Koskinen to head the Internal Revenue Service, and Brian Davis to be a federal judge in Florida.
Republicans refused requests by Democrats to carry over until next year six other Obama nominees, all to relatively low-level posts.
That means these nominees face the prospect of having to start the confirmation process all over again with Obama re-nominating them.
The stage was set for this end-of-year confirmation 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.
Republicans accused Democrats of an unwarranted power grab. Democrats said they did it to combat unprecedented Republican obstructionism.
Under the new rules, a nominee needs the support of only a simple majority of the 100-member Senate, rather than the earlier 60, to be confirmed.
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.
For most lower-level picks, Democrats and Republicans get four hours each.
Earlier Thursday, before reaching a deal with Republicans, Reid vowed to get all the nominees confirmed.
"These are crucial nominations, and if that means working through the weekend and next week, so be it," Reid said.
Assistant Senate Republican Leader John Cornyn said, "The irony is that none of these nominations are particularly urgent."
"Even Ms. Yellen - Bernanke's term doesn't end until the end of January - so this is all gratuitous from my perspective," Cornyn said.
McConnell said he would oppose the IRS nominee, denouncing as inadequate an investigation into the tax-collection agency's "incredible abuse of power" in targeting conservative groups for added scrutiny.
"The American people deserve answers about how and why this targeting happened. They deserve justice too. And I will not be supporting any nominee to lead this agency until the American people get the answers they deserve," McConnell said.
Reid urged confirmation of Koskinen to head the IRS, saying, "With all the problems we've had with the Internal Revenue Service ... we need to have someone running that agency."
- Police hunt for motive as search for Malaysian jet spans hemispheres |
- Crimeans vote on union with Russia as Moscow pours in troops |
- Malaysian PM says lost airliner was diverted deliberately |
- Democrats seek ways to limit Obamacare fallout after Florida defeat
- Indian Ocean poses daunting challenge in search for missing Malaysia plane