Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on Tuesday to end debate on Mike Pompeo for secretary of state and Richard Grenell as US ambassador to Germany.
This is a procedural move that limits the consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours of debate. Once the time is up, the Senate can vote.
The soonest the votes can be now that McConnell filed cloture is Thursday.
On Monday, the nomination for Pompeo advanced out of committee with a favorable recommendation, following a last-minute reversal from GOP Sen. Rand Paul that averted a historic rebuke of the President's pick to be the country's top diplomat.
The vote had nearly been stalled because Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, was not able to attend as he had been delivering a eulogy at a close friend's funeral. Under Senate rules, a member who is not present cannot cast the determinative vote. But, in order to speed things up, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons -- having already publicly voted against Pompeo's nomination -- voted present to move the nomination out of committee before 11 p.m. ET, when Isakson could have arrived.
Meanwhile, Grenell's nomination has long been stalled in the Senate.
His road to confirmation has consistently faced opposition. Last month, Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, formally held up the vote on Grenell, saying on the Senate floor he couldn't support a nominee who "tweets attacking both prominent Democratic women and prominent Republican women."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit Washington on Friday -- and it appears that Republicans want to confirm Grenell by the time she arrives.
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