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Davis and Perez in holding pattern

Two Maryland-related nominations by President Barack Obama were put on hold after a Republican objection was lodged at a brief session of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

The committee postponed action on U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis' elevation to the Court of Appeals and Maryland Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez's nomination to head the Civil Rights Division at the Justice department.

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If any senator objects, a delay is automatic under rules of the committee, which will take up the nominations at its next meeting. That won't be until after the Senate's Memorial Day recess and no date has been announced.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the panel, said that several Republican senators were concerned because Judge Davis of Baltimore had "several reversals on criminal cases" by the Fourth Circuit Court, the one to which he's been nominated. He would not identify the senators.

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Sessions gave a surprisingly upbeat assessment of Perez's prospects, noting the Marylander's background as a prosecutor in the office he's been picked to head.

"He's in pretty good shape to go," said the Alabama senator, a former judge, who then stopped himself by saying that he "shouldn't prejudge it."

Assuming they make it out of committee, which is highly likely, since Democrats are in control and no Democratic opposition has emerged, both men still must be approved by the full Senate.

Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, a member of the panel, said afterward he is optimistic that both will be confirmed, though he did not predict how long that might take.

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