The vote on two motions to cut off debate so the Senate could consider the nomination was 57-39, three votes short of the 60 needed for cloture on both the nomination and on closing debate on the nomination.

Dorr, the president of a family agricultural business based in Iowa, has been serving in the position since President Bush named him to the post in a recess appointment in August of 2002. That appointment expires on Dec. 31.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, led a number of Democratic senators in opposing the nomination. Harkin cited Dorr’s admission that he filed incorrect statements in regard to his family’s farming operation in Marcus, Iowa, and that he made “racist” remarks in a speech to a farm group in Iowa.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, refuted those arguments in this morning’s debate, quoting from statements by Farm Service Agency personnel that the farming operation did not violate USDA regulations.

White House officials had been quoted as saying the thought they had sufficient votes to end the debate and pass the nomination.