WASHINGTON - Senators reached a tentative agreement Tuesday that will avoid a Democratic move to change Senate rules and eliminate the power of a minority to block action on executive branch nominations, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced.
"It is a compromise. I think we get what we want and they get what they want. Not a bad deal," Reid said in a brief speech on the Senate floor, shortly before the first of seven votes he had scheduled on long-delayed presidential nominations that were designed to force the issue.
Reid said there were still final details to be negotiated, but that he and his Republican counterpart would outline the proposal to senators at their weekly caucus lunches.
The Senate has voted to confirm Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as senators approved the first of a batch of President Obama's nominations freed for votes by a bipartisan agreement.
The 66-34 vote Tuesday came hours after Senate leaders worked out a deal freeing up seven stalled appointments for the consumer bureau and other agencies for simple majority votes by the chamber. In exchange, Democrats agreed to abandon for now an effort to change Senate rules to weaken the minority party's ability to block nominations, and Obama agreed to submit two different nominees for two labor posts.
Obama first nominated Cordray for the consumer job in 2011. But Republicans blocked a vote, demanding that Obama first agree to change the agency's structure and financing.
The president then named Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to the job in January 2012 with a recess appointment, which does not require Senate approval. That appointment was to expire in January.
Tuesday morning, the Senate voted 71-29 to end GOP delaying tactics that had prevented a vote on Cordray's confirmation. The consumer bureau was created by the 2010 law that overhauled federal financial regulatory powers after the Great Recession.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.