Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Logjam Eased


And, just like that, the Senate has approved 60-some nominations today, mostly executive branch (via the invaluable Senatus).  That's on top of three district judges approved yesterday.  It's not quite half of the nominations that have cleared committee and are awaiting floor action.

Looking through the list, today's group is a mixed bag.  We have quite a few new members of obscure and presumably noncontroversial panels, such as five confirmations for the  National Museum and Library Services Board.  We have members of less obscure governing panels, such as the NLRB and NTSB.  There are a bunch of US Attorneys and US Marshals. There are also political appointees to the Departments of Labor, Education, HHS (two there), and Defense.

Today's batch also included some judicial nominations, filling three vacancies on the DC Circuit.  It's about time! (Oops!  Sloppy work by me -- see comment below).

This hardly solves the problem; there's still a large backlog.  However, from the beginning of the Obama Administration, there's been a double problem -- the Senate has not only stalled on controversial nominations, even those with strong majorities, but also on all the rest of the nominations.  There are still going to be fights over nominees that Republicans oppose, and I still think that the administration and Congress are vetting nominees too thoroughly, and allowing obstruction too easily -- and I think that Republicans are wrong to block executive branch nominees on partisan grounds, and I'd favor reforms to make that more difficult.

Still, a whole bunch of people confirmed.  It's a start.


  1. Secret Holds Block Non-Controversial Federal Judicial Nominees

    Thanks for the timely posting. Unfortunately, however, today’s Senate deal did not, as you report, fill “three vacancies on the DC Circuit.”

    The Senatus blog list that you link to only includes three judges for the local court--the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

    What does not happen can be vital, as in Sherlock Holmes’ dog that did not bark.

    The most telling thing about the Senate agreement to confirm 60 nominees today is the fact that it did not include any nominees to fill lifetime seats on the U.S Court of Appeal s for the D.C. Circuit or any of the100 federal appellate and district court vacancies. (US Courts website). The three federal district judges that you note were confirmed yesterday hardly made a dent.

    What is unprecedented is that many judicial nominees who were unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee long ago are still being blocked by secret holds.
    My Judging the Environment website has thousands of links to Senator statements, editorials, and more on Supreme Court and other federal judicial nominations and related issues such as access to courts.

    -Glenn Sugameli
    Staff Attorney
    Judging the Environment
    Defenders of Wildlife

  2. Thanks Glenn, and corrected above. Apologies to all; that was real sloppy on my part.

    And, as I said earlier, I really don't think that the "secret" part of the holds are the main problem...and of course, in many cases Obama still hasn't even nominated anyone for those spots. But, yes, the level of obstruction is unprecedented.


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