Labor unions, liberal groups press Obama for nominees who are further left than usual

“Before we weren’t trying to push people with a labor backgrounds because we knew they would never have been confirmable,” said a senior labor official. “That bar has been removed. You’ll see considerable interest in seeing more progressive people appointed to positions.”

Groups are keeping their wish lists of potential nominees secret for fear that Republicans could still muster enough opposition to stall their confirmations if it became known they are the top priorities of the left.

“We do have a couple we’re trying to push right now,” said the labor official, who declined to reveal specifically which vacant positions are under discussion. “There are some assistant secretary positions.”

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats changed the Senate’s rules to lower the threshold for advancing executive and judicial branch nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority. The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominees. There are 55 senators who are in the Democratic caucus.