WASHINGTON -

The Senate on Friday confirmed Brian J. Davis as U.S. District judge for Florida nearly two years after President Barack Obama nominated the circuit judge from Nassau County to the federal bench.

Davis was confirmed on a 68-26 vote and fills a seat that has been vacant since December 2011.

The nomination of Davis, a circuit judge since 1994, initially was supported by Florida's two senators -- Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio -- but Rubio later balked after a fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, took issue with statements Davis once made about two black officials associated with the Clinton administration.

Davis, who is also black, implied in a roundabout way that the officials — former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Dr. Henry Foster Jr., a nominee for that position — were railroaded because of their race.

In October, Grassley said Davis wrote a letter apologizing for the remarks. Grassley then agreed to give Davis the "benefit of the doubt" and let the nomination go forward.

"I just want to thank the Senate in advance for giving this good man, this excellent jurist, the opportunity to serve in a greater capacity," said Nelson on the Senate floor a day before the vote. "This is a great Christmas present for me, but it's nothing like the Christmas present it will be for Judge Brian Davis and his family."

The senate also confirmed immigration director Alejandro Mayorkas to be the No. 2 official at the Department of Homleand Security and John Andrew Koskinen to head the Internal Revenue Service and The agreement calls for the Senate to vote on the confirmation of Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve on Jan. 6.