Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to push for confirmation of 24 Obama nominees over the weekend. 12 federal judgeships and 12 administrative appointees, including a new Surgeon General and head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, could be appointed due to a little-known procedural rule and the actions of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The Senate vote on the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill this weekend was stalled when Senator Cruz insisted on a vote on the constitutionality of President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration. Although Senator Cruz’s motion was defeated 22-74, the extended session opened the door for Senator Reid (D-NV) to present 12 nominations for judgeships, and another 12 for executive office- an unintended consequence that has many GOP leaders frustrated.
Amongst nominations for the executive office is Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General, whose view that gun violence in America is a public health problem and needs to be addressed has been controversial. Sarah Saldaña was also nominated to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If appointed, Saldaña would be the first Latina woman to hold the position. Many of the nominations face minimal opposition, and it is believed that most will be confirmed early this week.
Media Resources: US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Press Release 12/9/14; Democrats.Senate.gov Schedule for Monday, Dec 15; Justice.gov US Attorneys;