Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Post-filibuster stream of confirmations nears: Pillard first up followed by four district judges

So life in a post-nuclear Senate kicked off on Monday night.

We'll take the play-by-play from the Senate Democrats' floor report.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) opened the proceedings at 6:43 p.m. by causally strolling up to the mike and agreeably asking for unanimous consent to move on all 80 executive and judicial nominations on the calendar.

(Watch closely kids, this is how you troll a legislative minority.)

Naturally, a Republican Senator (Lamar Alexander of Tennessee) objected, noting acidly that he wanted to see how the Senate would work without rules.

At 6:55 p.m. Reid then filed for cloture votes on 10 nominations. The first one of these for will occur on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.

After each cloture vote, the motion will have to "ripen," meaning that debate and other parliamentary maneuvers can consumer up to a certain amount of time post-cloture.  According to the current rules, this time can exceed no more than 30 hours for cabinet-level posts or equivalents (Supreme Court Justices, Circuit Court Justices Federal Reserve Chairs, etc). For all other executive appointments, the amount of time is 8 hours, and for district judges the time is two hours.

So the first confirmation up is Nina Pollard at 10 a.m. local time for the D.C Circuit Court (Her cloture motion passed before the Thanksgiving recess, so the 30 hours on her motion has expired)

Starting Wednesday, we'll see cloture votes on four district court judges, five mid-level executive appointments and the Secretary for Homeland Security, Jeh Charles Johnson.

List of upcoming confirmations:

Elizabeth A. Wolford (Western District New York -- a judicial emergency)
Landya B. McCafferty (District of New Hampshire)
Brian Morris (District of Montana -- judicial emergency)
Susan P. Watters (District of Montana -- judicial emergency)

Executive appointments:
Jeh Charles Johnson (Secretary of Homeland Security)
Deborah Lee James (Secretary of the Air Force)
Heather Anne Higginbottom (Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources)
Anne W. Patterson (Assistant Secretary of State, Near Eastern Affairs)
Chai Rachel Feldblum (Member, Equal Opportunity Commission)
Patricia M. Wald (Member, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board)

 Some of these are boring, but putting them in place makes the government work that much better.

I would imagine that the other D.C. circuit justices, Melvin Watt at the Federal Housing Administration and Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve, along another half dozen or so district judges and numerous other mid-level appointments will follow in short order next week.

The gears of functioning government are grinding slowly into motion.

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