Davis, Perez still holding as Sotomayor prepares to land
The prospect of a swift Senate confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is good news for the federal judge from New York. But it's less clear whether a pair of delayed Obama nominees from Maryland will get approved soon, too.
If all goes according to plan, Sotomayor will land her seat on the nation's highest court by early August, just over two months after President Barack Obama submitted her nomination to the Senate.
Federal Judge Andre M. Davis of Baltimore and Maryland Labor Secretary Tom Perez haven't been nearly so lucky. Obama sent their names to the Hill more than two months before Sotomayor's, but they've been in a holding pattern for weeks, circling the Senate chamber while Republicans use Sotomayor as an excuse to delay the inevitable approval of their appointments.
Last winter, Obama picked Davis to fill a seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond that has been vacant since 2000. That was also the first year that Davis was nominated for the lifetime appointment (the nomination died in the final months of the Clinton administration).
Like his fellow Marylander, Perez was also selected last winter, in his case as head of the Justice department's Civil Rights division.
By early June, both men had been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote by the full, Democratic controlled Senate, where their confirmation should be a mere formality.
But the story didn't end there.
Republican senators moved to block action on Davis and Perez, and other related nominations, until the Senate disposed of Sotomayor's nomination.
Now that Republican leaders have signaled that they'll allow her confirmation vote to take place without a prolonged delay, the question is: how quickly will they let the Senate move on the others?
Democrats control the Senate, of course, but Republicans enjoy leverage under the chamber's rules that their House counterparts lack.
Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to have the Senate take up the Davis and Perez nominations under a procedure that doesn't require a roll call vote. What it does require, however, is the unamimous consent of all senators from both parties.
Democrats say they think the Republicans will let the nominations move forward relatively soon.
The Sotomayor confirmation vote is expected to take place before the senators start their next, lengthy vacation, on Aug. 7.
There is no sign--yet--that the Sotomayor vote will become a bargaining chip in other legislative dealings. But everyone knows how eager Obama is to see her seated by September, when the court will hear an important case held over from the last term, and some Republicans might be tempted.
Democratic aides say Davis and Perez should finally get confirmed before the senators leave town. But with the Senate, it's never over 'til it's over. So it could still be sometime after Labor Day before the Marylanders are able to touch down in their new offices.