The Senate’s vote Thursday on the massive transportation bill cleared the way for a move next week by Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to push as many as 17 or so judicial nominees — an effort that could possibly tie up the Senate pretty much all the way to the two-week Easter recess beginning April 2.
Reid is trying to pull in enough GOP votes to get the 60 needed to bring the nominees to a vote, one at a time. He’s expected to move only folks supported last year by all or almost all eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s unclear whether Reid’s going to omit a Utah nominee from the group since Utah Sen. Mike Lee has been in the forefront of the GOP effort to block confirmations — an effort sparked by President Obama’s move in January to recess-appoint Richard Cordray to be consumer watchdog and three others to the National Labor Relations Board.
Reid’s move, if it succeeds, would be great news for that group of judicial wannabes. But it’s not such good news for dozens of other nominees already on the Senate floor and hoping for confirmation — something that, even in the best of times, gets dicier as summer approaches.
That list includes a number of senior positions, such as a deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development; five people for the Department of Energy, including an undersecretary and four assistant secretaries; a Treasury undersecretary; and an undersecretary and various assistant secretaries and ambassadors at the State Department.
The Senate did, however, recently approve two judges. And it’s likely that a nominee for ambassador to, say, Burma would be approved, so no reason to abandon all hope.
We’re hearing that the White House, which argued that the recess maneuver was essential to keep government agencies functioning, is not inclined to make more such appointments. A perusal of the list of nominees now on the Senate floor doesn’t appear to include anyone who would meet that criterion.