Helms was nominated to be the next vice commander of Space Command, but Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., blocked her nomination because Helms overturned the sexual assault conviction of Capt. Matthew Herrera at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in February 2012.
Under the old Senate rules, it took 60 votes to overcome a hold on a nomination, but on Thursday the Senate voted to lower that threshold to 51 votes.
But Helms has not reconsidered her request to retire in light of the change. She is not taking interview requests from the media, said Space Command spokesman Anthony Roake in an email. Her retirement date has not yet been set.
In a statement to the media, Gen. William Shelton, head of Space Command, praised Helms as a “brilliant officer” who serves as a role model for all Americans.
“I am proud to know her, proud to serve alongside her, and proud of her steadfast commitment to integrity, even in the face of extremely challenging circumstances,” Shelton said in the statement. “I will miss her wise counsel, but am certain she will continue to contribute to national security in a civilian capacity for many years to come.”