(CNN) - Senators cast their last votes of the year Friday - confirming a new IRS commissioner and the No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department - and dashed from the Capitol to start their Christmas recess.
Their final votes, to break Republican filibusters and approve several of President Barack Obama's nominees, seemed a fitting conclusion to a year when the divisive issues of filibusters and nominations were dominant.
Friday wrapped up a grueling week of work for Senate lawmakers, who conducted marathon sessions over stalled nominees. Majority Leader Harry Reid was hospitalized briefly for exhaustion. He was back home and cleared to return to work by evening.
Washington (CNN) - Fallout from the so-called “nuclear option” Senate Democrats triggered last month - when they dramatically weakened the ability of minority Republicans to filibuster presidential nominees - continued to reverberate through the Capitol on Wednesday as GOP Senators threatened to keep the chamber working into the Christmas recess if Democrats insisted on approving a large slate of presidential nominees.
It remained unclear if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would press ahead to clear the nominees or pull back from the brink and let senators return home for the holidays.
Updated 6:58 p.m. ET, 11/18/2013
Washington (CNN) - For the third time in three weeks, Senate Republicans blocked a nominee of President Obama's to be a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, a powerful court often considered second in influence to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On a vote of 53 to 38, Democratic supporters fell short of the 60 votes they needed to break a filibuster of nominee Robert Wilkins, who is currently a U.S. District Court judge in Washington.
Updated 10/31/2013 at 5:23 p.m. ET
(CNN) - Republicans blocked two high-profile presidential nominees on Thursday as the bitter fight over appointments escalated in the U.S. Senate, but Democrats held their fire and decided, for now, to forgo a change in rules to limit filibusters.
The GOP mounted filibusters against Judge Patricia Millett, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia, and Rep. Melvin Watt, who was named to head the agency that oversees housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
CNN's Dana Bash takes a look at where Congressional Republicans go now that the shutdown has ended.
(CNN) - Add Mississippi's Thad Cochran to the list of Republican Senators up for re-election next year who are facing primary challengers.
State Senator Chris McDaniel launched a campaign on Thursday to try to unseat Cochran, who's served in Congress for more than four decades.
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner has a day or two max to strike a debt ceiling and government funding deal before some of his Republican Senate colleagues move more aggressively on their own ideas, several impatient GOP Senators have told CNN.
The Senators say they are willing to give Boehner a bit more time, about 24 to 48 hours, to come to an agreement with the White House to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government.
Updated 9:39 a.m. ET, 10/11/2013
Washington (CNN) - Several senior Republican senators from across the ideological spectrum expressed frustration Thursday that the latest proposal from House GOP leaders for a short-term hike in the debt ceiling didn't also include a plan to reopen the government.
"We need to deal with both the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling in a responsible sort of way," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican leader. "Obviously just doing part of it doesn't solve the whole problem and we need to solve the whole problem."
Washington (CNN) - Democrats took steps towards dramatically limiting Senate filibusters Thursday over the angry objections of Republicans who warned the move would destroy bipartisan cooperation in the chamber.
For months, Democrats, in the majority, have threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" to jam through rules changes for filibusters, and a showdown is now likely early next week.
Washington (CNN) - Caitlin Halligan, a top judicial nominee of President Obama, was denied a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor Wednesday, after Republicans expressed concern she would be an "activist" on the bench.
Now general counsel for Manhattan's district attorney's office, she is one of two nominees named in January by Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, seen by many as a professional stepping stone to the Supreme Court. She would fill the seat vacated by John Roberts, who joined the high court in 2005 and is now chief justice.
A 51-41 cloture vote failed to achieve the necessary 60 senators to end debate on Halligan's qualifications, with Democrats complaining she was being unfairly filibustered. Her third nomination to this judicial seat remains in political limbo.