Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Post nuclear update III: The Senate grinds on... two nominees in, two up and eight more on deck

The Senate cleared one big appointment and one medium-sized one on Monday, confirming Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security and Anne Patterson to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East. A steady stream of nominations will be on the floor this week as well. Follow all the action here.

Johnson’s case was particularly interesting, as Republicans yielded back their 15 hours of post-cloture debate time (For a cabinet official, there would be normally 30 hours of post-cloture time. The Democrats had been yielding their time back to save time, while the Republicans had been keeping theirs to slow things down). Maybe the GOP has realized it would like to get home for Christmas……

Senators also voted to end debate on two nominations. First up is Alejandro Mayorkas, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (Yes, I know – a cabinet secretary and a deputy secretary in the same department confirmed in one week, that’s incredible). Second, the John Andrew Koskinen was cleared for a final vote to run the Internal Revenue Service. Koskinen moved out of a committee hearing last week and will be confirmed over the objections of Orin Hatch, a Utah Republican who is the ranking minority member on the committee.  Both will be confirmed today.

Reid also filed for cloture on eight more nominees. By far the biggest one is Janet Yellen, slated to become the first chairwoman of the Board of the Federal Reserve. I suspect the GOP will yield back their post-debate time on her too, since she seems to be a fairly popular nominee, despite some opposition.

After that, it’s the parade of deputies; aka the people who actually implement a lot of policy but aren’t that well known. Here we have six appointments up for consideration:

Sloan D. Gibson: Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Sarah Sewall: Under Secretary of State (Civility Security, Democracy, and Human Rights)
Michael L. Connor: Deputy Secretary of the Interior
Sarah Bloom Raskin, of Maryland: Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Jessica Garfola Wright: Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness 

Then we have one judge thrown in for good measure:
Brian J. Davis: United States District Judge for the District of Florida

Finally, one member of an investigative board:
Richard Engler: Member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board 

I suspect we're going to see some more district judges (there's eight with committee approval awaiting a floor vote after Davis) and Robert Wilkens, Obama's third DC Circuit pick confirmed this week before the Senate recesses (perhaps  Carolyn McHugh for the 10th Circuit as well, who is also out of committee). I also speculate Reid will only let everyone go home after he gets unanimous consent to carry over all the existing nominees to the New Year.

For those of you scoring at home, we now have 12 nominees confirmed post-nuclear action (including one cabinet secretary, two circuit court judges, one housing secretary and four district court judges)

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