Obama nominees watching the Senate calendar


Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez. (Molly Riley/AP)

But for a few Obama Cabinet nominees it may mean twisting slowly in those summer breezes, waiting for the Senate to act on their nominations.

Two nominees — Penny Pritzker for Commerce and Anthony Foxx for Transportation — have a reasonable chance of celebrating the Fourth of July as Cabinet members. Both were voted out of committee unanimously earlier this week — a very good sign.

Barring an unexpected — but increasingly common — kerfuffle over some issue having nothing to do with them, they look like a pretty safe bet to be confirmed before the Senate takes off for the week-long July Fourth recess starting June 28. It’s unclear U.S. Trade Representative nominee Michael Froman can make it before the recess.

But we’re hearing that Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy and Labor nominee Tom Perez most likely won’t get a floor vote until July — if then.

Two Senate committees sent their nominations to the full Senate in May — but by straight party-line votes, so the two nominees may need 60 votes to overcome GOP objections and a filibuster.

The problem is that the Senate has begun debating the controversial, 1,000-page immigration bill and Democrats are loathe to consume valuable floor time to break a filibuster for a nominee..

So if nothing can be worked out, McCarthy and Perez may have to cope with the usual July uncertainty — where all manner of political brawling may erupt.

That’s when the real nail-biting begins. If nominees don’t get a vote in July, the Senate’s five-week home “work period” starts from Aug. 2 to Sept. 9.

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Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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