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February 8, 2016

Posts in "Nominations"

January 27, 2016

For the Senate, a Breezy Confirmation Vote


Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch both voted for Vazquez. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch both voted for Vazquez. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This one was easy.

After last week’s relatively dramatic floor vote to confirm Wilhelmina Wright to be a district judge in Minnesota, 58-36, the Senate voted to confirm John Vazquez to be a district judge in New Jersey.

About the only drama in the 84-2 vote was guessing how many senators might miss it due to the ongoing fallout from Winter Storm Jonas and how many of the senators running for president would make it to vote. Although the conservative grass-roots organization Heritage Action for America on Tuesday said it would reserve the right to hold the vote against lawmakers on its legislative scorecard, only two Republicans, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, voted no. Full story

3 Things to Watch for in the Senate Judicial Vote


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 16 - Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calls on a person asking a question at a Town Hall style campaign event at Brick City Grill in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Hey, I used to work with that guy! Christie has a connection to Vazquez. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate returns Wednesday for its first vote since Winter Storm Jonas slammed the East Coast, on the confirmation of John Vazquez to be a district judge in New Jersey. While the vote is a seemingly routine calendar item, Vazquez’ nomination brings up issues across all three branches of government, and even the 2016 presidential race.

Here is a quick rundown of items to note about Vazquez as he faces his vote. Full story

January 21, 2016

Senate Deal to Confirm Judges Holds, for Now


UNITED STATES - MAY 9: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., participate in the Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing of S.744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, on Thursday, May 9, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Klobuchar, left and Sen. Al Franken, helped shepherd Wright’s nomination, but had to sweat out the floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It took a little finesse, but a Senate deal to confirm five of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees held this week, despite pressure from a key conservative interest group to shut down the process entirely.

“Did you wait for me?” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asked floor staffers as she entered the chamber. “Is it a tight vote?” Full story

November 9, 2015

Reid Whacks Grassley Over Clinton Emails, Nominees


Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate’s week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.

“Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment’s notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re not partisan. They’re diplomats,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a floor speech. “That’s why it’s troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions.” Full story

October 14, 2015

Explaining the Cracks in Ted Cruz’s State Department Blockade


(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz’s State Department holds do not apply to career ambassadors. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“I intend to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State.”

That quote, from a July 16 letter from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to President Barack Obama sounded pretty straightforward. But, it turns out that career ambassadors are not State Department nominees, at least according to the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful.

Full story

September 17, 2015

Foreign Relations Leaders Still Question Human Trafficking Report


Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and Ranking Member Ben Cardin, D-Md., met with State Department officials and the full Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corker, left, and Cardin met Thursday with State Department officials and the full Foreign Relations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State Department still has some explaining to do after a closed briefing Thursday with Senate Foreign Relations Committee members over allegations that a report vital to several administration initiatives was watered down for political purposes.

Committee members have cried politics since July when the annual Trafficking in Persons report was released. After Thursday’s briefing, senators called for more transparency in the process that saw Malaysia and Cuba upgraded from the lowest ranking in terms of human-trafficking conditions. Full story

June 4, 2015

McConnell Puts Squeeze on New Obama Federal Judges


McConnell talked to Hugh Hewitt about Republicans limiting the confirmations of Obama's judicial nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell talked to Hugh Hewitt about Republicans limiting the confirmations of Obama’s judicial nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama shouldn’t be too optimistic about getting a lot of federal appeals court judges confirmed by the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked for an update on the judicial confirmation process in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and the Kentucky Republican made clear that so far the GOP-led Senate has focused its confirmation efforts on a particular variety of federal judge.

Full story

April 23, 2015

Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate (Updated) (Video)


(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:29 p.m. | Get ready to start calling her “Attorney General Loretta Lynch.” The Senate voted to confirm the first African-American woman attorney general Thursday afternoon, but the scars from the long, tortured confirmation process will linger far longer. Full story

April 17, 2015

For Lynch, Next Week Just Might Be the Week


Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the end of a week that saw bipartisanship break out all around the Senate, Loretta Lynch remained in limbo.

The Thursday afternoon announcement there would be no further Senate votes for the week guaranteed that the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be attorney general, would enter another week awaiting Senate confirmation. The contrast was on the president’s mind Friday.

“And I have to say that there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough,” Obama said at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like this.”

Full story

April 16, 2015

Sharpton: Lynch Delay Is ‘an Insult to Every American’


(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sharpton is in D.C. pushing for Lynch confirmation. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday that delaying the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general is unacceptable and rank-and-file senators could face retribution for not pushing for a vote.

Senate Republican leaders have said they intend to address a human trafficking bill before bringing Lynch’s confirmation to a vote, but the bill has been stalled by a standoff over the included abortion language. Senators continue negotiating a way to end the gridlock, but Sharpton said the delay on voting to confirm the first black woman attorney general is unconscionable, considering the tumultuous times. Full story

April 14, 2015

A Busy and Bipartisan Tuesday


(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For all the talk of the death of bipartisanship, Tuesday’s busy legislative day in the Senate provided quite the counter-argument.

A little more than a day after returning from a two-week recess, the legislative dam burst, with senators making significant headway on sticky issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, a replacement for the payment formula for doctors who treat Medicare patients and possibly even the confirmation process for Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general. Full story

Senate’s To-Do List Keeps Getting Longer (Video)


McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over Iran may highlight the Senate’s agenda, but it already seems like there might be too much to do.

Sen. Bob Corker’s efforts to get broad support for bipartisan legislation to provide a role for Congress in reviewing a final international agreement with Iran about nuclear weapons appears to have paid dividends. And the Corker legislation seems to be on an expedited path to the floor after a markup set for Tuesday afternoon. Full story

March 26, 2015

Loretta Lynch: From ‘Back of the Bus’ to ‘Sacrificial Lamb’


Jackson Lee, right, . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Jackson Lee, far right, alleges Lynch’s race and sex have delayed a Senate vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Adopting rhetoric similar to Illinois Senator and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s “back of the bus” comment that drew the ire of Republicans, about a dozen women congregated outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office Thursday to protest the delay on confirming Loretta Lynch.

The group, visiting Capitol Hill as part of the Black Women’s Roundtable 2015 National Women of Power Summit, allege Lynch’s race and sex impacted the Kentucky Republican’s timetable for voting on the nomination and used the upcoming Easter holiday to inject religion into their plea. Full story

March 24, 2015

Lynch’s Republican Backers Holding Firm


Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

GOP supporters of President Barack Obama’s pick to be the next attorney general are sticking by her, meaning Loretta Lynch is still on track for confirmation — if she can ever get a vote.

That’s even as announced Republican opposition to Lynch continues to mount with the nomination sitting on the Senate calendar, effectively held hostage as part of the dispute between the parties about abortion-related language contained in a bill designed to combat human trafficking.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., became the latest Tuesday morning to join the list of lawmakers opposing Lynch.

Full story

March 18, 2015

Democrats Blast ‘Back of the Bus’ Status for Loretta Lynch (Video) (Updated)


Updated 5:58 p.m. | A top Senate Democrat has accused the GOP forcing Loretta Lynch to “sit in the back of the bus” by delaying the vote on her confirmation.

“The fact is, there is no substantive reason to stop this nomination,” Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said in a Wednesday morning floor speech blasting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for prioritizing pending anti-human trafficking legislation. Full story

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