Good news #1: The Senate processed a large batch of nominations before they left town for the month. Some ambassadors, some miscellaneous board members, but also a bunch of assistant secretaries. Fewer empty desks is good.
Good news #2: Barack Obama has cranked up the judicial nominations. Last week he sent up six;
yesterday he nominated six district court judges and three circuit court picks.
Good news #3: Along with the judicial nominations, Obama also this week sent up a slew of executive branch nominees. Fewer empty desks is good!
Bad news #1: There are still far too many vacancies without nominees, including over forty seats on the federal bench.
Bad news #2: Yes, they were busy with the executive branch nominations...but the Senate only confirmed two judges in July. They will do two more right away when they get back in September.
Bad news #3: Everyone is still ignoring my call for executive branch nomination reform: far less vetting! Which means that even if we now have simple majority confirmation, or at least least we have it as long as it lasts, it's still far too difficult to fill these spots. Again: the vetting for judges is insane, but at least plausibly justified -- no one wants a lifetime-appointment crooked judge, and those jobs are valued enough that it's unlikely the insane vetting creates any shortage of top-qualified people. But the current vetting procedures for exec branch nominations almost certainly is massively counterproductive. Among other things: I'm willing to bet that crazy over-vetting narrows the pool enough, and filters out enough perfectly good candidates, that the overall effect is to wind up with more crooks and incompetents, not fewer.