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.