With new voting rules in place, the Democratic-controlled Senate is poised this week to consider a host of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominations that have been blocked or stalled by Republican opposition.
On Tuesday senators will vote on the nomination of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the first test of new rules triggered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that switched requirements for confirmation from a 60-vote threshold to majority rules votes on executive and judicial picks, except for the Supreme Court nominees.
The Senate is also expected to reconsider the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Last October, Watt became the first sitting member of Congress since 1843 to be denied a Cabinet position after his nomination was blocked from going forward.
But no matter how bad Watt had it in October - or how difficult his re-nomination might be - he probably wont' have it as rough as the late Rep. Caleb Cushing did 170 years ago.
Cushing, a political Whig from Massachusetts, has the distinction of being nominated and rejected for a Cabinet position three times - in one day.
President John Tyler tapped Cushing to be his Treasury secretary. But the Whig-controlled Senate was at odds with Tyler, a Democrat who was President William Henry Harrison's vice president on the Whig ticket.
When Harrison died of pneumonia on his 32nd day in office, Tyler became the first vice president to assume the presidency without being elected. Tyler quickly ran afoul of the Senate by abandoning Whig principles, according to Senate historian Don Ritchie.
Senators extracted revenge by rejecting Tyler's proposals and nominees. On March 3, 1843, the last day of the Senate session, Tyler ventured to Capitol Hill to sign bills and submit a slew of last minute nominations, including Cushing's.
Senators rejected Cushing's nomination by a vote of 19 yeas and 27 nays. Angered, Tyler nominated Cushing again and was rebuffed on a 10 to 27 vote. A third Cushing nomination yielded a 2 to 29 rejection.
Cushing's multiple rejections highlighted one of the most brutal days in Senate history in terms of nominations, the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., wrote in a publication on the chamber's history.
Senators also thrice rejected the nomination of Henry A. Wise to be minister to France and turned aside Tyler's choices for secretary of the Navy, secretary of war, a substitute pick for treasury secretary, and four Supreme Court nominees.
"Nominations and rejections flew backwards and forwards as in a game of shuttlecock," Sen. Thomas Hart Benton reported at the time.
Byrd noted that the battle set a "record of rejection unmatched by any other president."