We’ve written that President Obama and senior players at the White House really, really want to nominate former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
One potential hurdle, we noted, is that she’s never been confirmed by the Senate, which may make it harder to get her through the Senate during the post-election lame-duck session scheduled to begin Nov. 12.
Harder, yes, but clearly not impossible, we’re told — as long as the likely outgoing Senate Democratic majority is willing to thoroughly infuriate their soon-to-be-in-charge Republican friends.
Let’s look at the calendar. (And remember it has taken, for recent nominees, from four to six weeks from nomination to hearing.)
The White House, which has not settled on a nominee, has said it will announce one after the Nov. 4 elections.
So let’s say they nominate Ruemmler on Friday, Nov. 7. She’ll have to deal with paperwork, questions, and be obliged to do a round of visits with key members and so on. A process that might take a couple weeks and run into the Thanksgiving holiday. (And let’s assume, though it’s almost certainly going to happen, that there’s no titanic struggle over getting White House documents.)
In that case, we might assume Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), — though he has several other legislative priorities — would agree to hold a one-day hearing (you can already hear the “What about Cartagena?” chants regarding her role in dealing with the Secret Service prostitution scandal there) maybe on Dec. 2. (We assume Leahy’s been chatting with the White House about scheduling.)
Under the rules, there’s a layover before the vote, which could then be around Dec. 9. But Republican senators can demand a one-week extension, delaying a committee vote until Dec. 16.
So the nomination would hit the Senate floor the middle of the week before Christmas. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would file for cloture, and the still-majority (but likely grumpy) Democrats — and furious Republicans — would approve the nomination maybe by Dec. 19.
Now. If Obama and Reid really wanted to jam the Republicans — and since they’re going to be fit to be tied anyway, the Ds might opt for that — they could maybe accelerate the process and have a hearing just before Thanksgiving which would allow a floor vote to around mid-December.
That should put new majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an even more cooperative mood than usual come Jan. 3, 2015.
So yes, it can be done. Just really, really unlikely. . .