Two high-level Obama appointees from Maryland, federal Judge Andre M. Davis of Baltimore and state Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, will get to mark Labor Day in their current jobs. Celebrate might be too strong a word, however.
Their nominations have been held up for months, after clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee in early June. Davis is the choice to fill a nearly decade-old vacancy on the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., and Perez is to head the civil rights division at the Justice department.
This afternoon, the U.S. Senate adjourned until after Labor Day without acting on their nominations.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada did reach agreement with Republicans on a number of delayed nominations, and the majority leader took the necessary parliamentary steps to confirm those appointees without opposition (in a nearly empty Senate chamber, with virtually no other senators present, as is often the case).Senate sources say that Davis and Perez have fallen victim to two unrelated issues.
First, Republicans had held up action on all judicial nominations until after Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor was dealt with. Now that she has been, to the great delight of President Barack Obama and the Democrats, the Republicans don't appear to be of a mind to do the administration any more favors right away.
Second, reported plans by the administration to consider Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as a possible destination for Guantanamo Bay detainees has raised hackles in that state. As a result, the two Republican senators from Kansas have apparently decided to block Obama's Judicial and State department nominations until they get assurances from the White House that detainees won't be headed to the Sunflower State.
For Davis, at least, prolonged delays are nothing new. It's been almost nine full years since he was first selected for the Maryland seat on the 4th Circuit, which has been vacant since the death in August, 2000 of Judge Francis D. Murnaghan Jr.