Republican senators blocked President Barack Obama's nominees for a federal housing agency and a powerful appeals court on Thursday, NBC News reported. Obama’s nomination of Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency fell four votes short of the 60 votes needed to advance to a final up-or-down vote. Patricia Millett, Obama's nominee to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also failed to get the 60 votes needed under Senate rules. The votes reflect the struggle over the Senate cloture rule which requires 60 votes to end a filibuster or a threatened filibuster. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the bipartisan Gang of 14 who ended a filibuster on judicial nominees in 2005 said that members of that group had agreed that they’d resort to filibusters of judicial nominee only in “extraordinary circumstances.” He said, “It is my judgment as a United States senator that extraordinary conditions exist” with regard to the Watt and Millett nominations, but he did not explain what made the current circumstances extraordinary.