Monday, January 11, 2010

TX Senators blocking US Attorney nominations

After a year in office, Texas still has no nominees for US Attorney and the Houston Chronicle's Mary Flood has the story why:

President Barack Obama enters his second year in office having filled only a third of the 93 top federal prosecutor spots in the nation, and no one's even nominated for the four open positions in Texas.

A classic political stalemate pitting Texas' Democratic congressional delegation and Obama's administration against Texas' pair of Republican senators is partly to blame for the slowed process here. Similar fights in other states, as well as an especially cautious presidential nominating process, have left most of the nation without freshly appointed lead federal prosecutors, who direct law enforcement priorities and approve work on the big projects.

Instead, many of the seats have the same folks there when President George W. Bush was president or, as in Texas, the jobs are filled by someone bridging the gap.

In Houston, that gap stretched to about 14 months and interim U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson last week announced he's leaving next month for a private sector job. A second interim attorney has to be put in the Houston seat now.

I tend to agree with Kuff on this one that:

according to the Congressional Research Office, when the President is of one party and both of a given state’s Senators are of the other party, “the primary role in recommending candidates for district court judgeships is assumed by officials in the state who are of the President’s party.” The reason for this stalemate is because Cornyn and Hutchison refuse to acknowledge this and instead insist that they get to make the decision. The fact that their ridiculously un-representative screening committee happened to come up with a good candidate (a Republican, of course; that’s the reason for their meddling) is beside the point. It’s not their decision to make. But thanks to their intransigence, and the Senate’s dysfunctional “blue slip” rule, here we are a year into Obama’s Presidency and the only way forward is to give in to their demands, since they’ll never back down.


Anonymous said...

In fairness, it must be clarified that Sarah Saldana, the senators' suggested nominee, is a certifiable Democrat, not a Republican. There is unsubstantiated suspicion that some Democrats don't want to reward her for her lead role in bringing down corrupt Dallas City Council member Don Hill. True or not, Democrats also don't want to let Republic senators dictate the choice.

Texas Lawyer said...

Arkansas's two democratic senators did not play this spoiler role during the previous administration. The Republican Congressional delegation (of 1) took on the nomination role (to confirm what's in the article).

Security Camera System said...

I am sure the Senators can get away with it because President Obama has his mind on other things that probably take priority such as the economic recovery, the two wars and all the other things that the Bush administration has left him with.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Grits, I thought the whole point was to depoliticize the appointment of the US Attorney. After all, you were very unhappy when AG Gonzales used political grounds. So, it's OK when the political grounds are being employed by the Democratic party when it has a majority? What the heck kind of neutrality is that? You are a hypocrite.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:07, I just searched on the blog and can't find any post where I criticized Gonzales on US Attorney appointments. Please provide a link to whatever you're referring to. Or are you just making stuff up?

Anonymous said...

As with so many other features of our broken govt, all roads lead to the dysfunctional, neo-Roman country club that is the U.S. Senate.

I don't remember Cornyn or Hutchinson's names on the ballot for President last year.

BTW, it is rich to watch the person who awarded "Lawman of the Year" to the Tulia sheriff lecturing Dems on racial sensitivity.


Anonymous said...

I don't recall Grits leading the charge to have Miguel Estrada and other Bush federal court appointees confirmed when the Democrats were in the minority in the Senate and blocking the nominations under the filibuster rule.

Democrats do enjoy a double standard by people like Grits and in the liberal media. Exhibit A: the most recent racial comments by Harry Reis vis a vis Trent Lott's comments that forced his resignation. C'mon Man!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"I don't recall Grits leading the charge" ...

What do you recall, exactly? Are you the same person who yesterday was accusing me of "hypocrisy" for things I never said? Which am I to blame for, precisely, things (you imagine) I've written or things I didn't? It's difficult to tell what you're referring to.