Senate Passes Measure To Speed Confirmation Process For Federal Workers

06/29/2011 03:19 pm ET | Updated Aug 29, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Senate is taking the rare step of curbing its own power.

A measure approved 79-20 Wednesday and sent to the House would cross 169 high-ranking federal jobs off the list of those for whom Senate confirmation is required. The idea is to reduce the chamber's backlog of nominees that can slow legislation, committee work and other federal business. Most of those no longer needing the advice and consent of the Senate are noncontroversial, mainly second-tier Cabinet-level positions such as assistant secretaries and deputy directors.

The measure is part of a compromise reached between Senate partisans in January to reduce impediments that had brought the chamber to a near-standstill. Democrats agreed to let Republicans offer amendments in exchange for a GOP promise to conduct fewer filibusters.