Obama Ahead Of Bush In U.S. Attorney Nominations
By Andrew Ramonas | July 14, 2022 12:05 pm

While there’s been some grumbling in the blogosphere that President Obama isn’t moving quickly enough to replace Bush-era U.S. Attorneys, the current administration is actually moving faster on nominations than George W. Bush did in his first year in office.

President Bush submitted his first U.S. Attorney nominations on July 31, 2001.  President Obama, by contrast, has already announced 13 U.S. Attorney nominations. Five of the Obama nominees have already been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though the panel since late May has been consumed with preparations for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings that are taking place this week.

Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he wasn’t sure if any of the U.S. Attorney nominees would be confirmed before the August recess. ”I really don’t know the answer to that,” Durbin said in an interview last week.

Even so, Obama is likely to see several of his choices confirmed by September. That’s about the same for Bush, whose first U.S. Attorneys weren’t confirmed until Sept. 14, 2001, when the Senate approved five U.S. Attorney nominations.

Obama announced his intention to nominate six U.S. Attorney candidates on May 15. On June 4, he forwarded those nominations to the Senate along with the nomination of B. Todd Jones for the District of Minnesota. On Friday, he announced his intention to nominate another six candidates.

Five nominees have been reported out of committee and are awaiting a confirmation vote in the Senate. They are:

Preet Bharara (North American South Asian Bar Association )

Preet Bharara (North American South Asian Bar Association)

Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York

Joyce Vance (DOJ)

Joyce Vance (doj)

(nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)

Tristram Coffin for the District of Vermont (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)

Joyce Vance for the Northern District of Alabama (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)

-John Paul Kacavas for the District of New Hampshire (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 25)

B. Todd Jones (Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi)

B. Todd Jones (Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi)

B. Todd Jones for the District of Minnesota (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 25)

The Obama White House sent seven U.S. Attorney nominations to the Senate on June 4. Of those appointments, five are waiting for a vote before the full Senate and two still need to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Awaiting Senate Judiciary Committee votes are:

Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington (Nominated: June 4)

Paul Fishman for the District of New Jersey (Nominated: June 4)

Paul Fishman (Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman)

Paul Fishman (Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman)

Meantime, three top Justice Department officials await confirmation votes in the Senate. They are:

-Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen (Nominated: February 11, reported out of committee: March 19)

-Civil Rights Division nominee Thomas Perez (Nominated: March 31, reported out of committee: June 4)

-Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith (Nominated: April 20, reported out of committee: June 11)

Dawn Johnsen (Indiana University)

Dawn Johnsen (Indiana University)

Johnsen’s nomination has been held up by conservative Democrats and Republicans uneasy about her abortion rights record. But by this point in 2001, Bush hadn’t even nominated an OLC head. Bush’s first OLC chief, Jay Bybee, was nominated on Aug. 3, 2001 and confirmed Oct. 23, 2001.

The Senate confirmed Bush Civil Rights Division head Ralph F. Boyd and Bush Tax Division chief Eileen J. O’Conner on July 20, 2001. The Senate voted on O’Connor 57 days after she was nominated by Bush. It took 81 days until the Senate voted on Boyd.

In 2001, the 50-50 Senate was controlled the Republicans only by virtue of Vice President Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote. Today, Democrats technically have a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. But ailing Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Edward Kennedy (Mass.) are often absent. And the Democratic leadership also isn’t confident that moderate Democrats will vote with the party to stop a filibuster.

Read our previous report on the DOJ nominees delays here.

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