Obama Wants Sotomayor Confirmed Before August Recess
By Paul Kane
President Obama has set a deadline of a confirmation vote on nominee Sonia Sotamayor by the start of the Senate's five-week recess, slated to begin Aug. 7.
That timeline is achievable by historical standards, unless something appears in her background that is controversial and grinds the nomination process to a halt.
Four years ago, when they controlled the process, Republicans said the vetting and pre-hearing process takes six weeks. Over the last three decades of nomination fights, any announcement of a nominee by mid-June or earlier resulted in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the end of July.
At this rate, the committee could hold mid-July hearings and still have three weeks for consideration and full Senate debate after that, to get a confirmation vote by Aug. 7.
In making his choice known this week, Obama has made a decision, conscience or not, to try to dominate the airwaves because of the current week-long recess of the Senate. Spread across the country, Senate Republicans will not be able to craft strategy as quickly, nor will they be able to walk up a flight of stairs to command a bank of TV cameras in the Senate's TV gallery, as they would if the chamber were in session.
For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of Judiciary, is traveling in Alabama this week. Even Democrats won't be as readily available, which helps avoid any unforced errors from the same side.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) is traveling on a congressional delegation trip to international hotspots and won't return until Saturday night.
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