Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama's nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won't include the next attorney general.
The Nevada Democrat said the White House wasn't pushing for confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney tapped by Obama to become the next attorney general , before Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., becomes the man in charge of the Senate floor schedule.
"My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don't be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year," Reid said.
The 114th Congress technically won't start until a few days into the new year, but as a practical matter, Reid's comments suggest Lynch will face a GOP-led Judiciary Committee after Obama's expected executive action on immigration. And that could threaten her confirmation. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will be majority whip in the new Congress, suggested that the immigration announcement could impede movement on an assortment of Senate business, including nominees like Lynch.
"As some have said before me it’s going to poison the well," said Cornyn, himself a member of the Judiciary Committee. "This place is built on some modicum of cooperation, but if the president is not going to cooperate with us it's going to make it much harder for us to persuade members of Congress to cooperate with him on everything from nominations to legislation."
"We would expect nothing less. And the president is confident that she'll get the bipartisan confirmation that she deserves," Earnest said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. has said he will stay until a successor is confirmed.
Work, meanwhile, has already been underway on developing a batch of nominations to be processed quickly before the end of the year.
"Well, I would hope that my staff and that of Sen. McConnell can work with a nice sound package like we used to," Reid said.
But Reid indicated that he may move forward on a series of debate-limiting votes on nominees if no agreement is hashed out before the Senate departs for its Thanksgiving recess.
"I just explained to my caucus if we get stalled and stalled and stalled, and we'll know that within the next many hours ... this week, then we're going to have to start filing cloture on a lot of nominations."
There's no shortage of nominations in both the executive branch and the judiciary that are pending on the Senate's executive calendar, with the Senate Judiciary Committee expected to send more of them to the floor following a routine committee meeting on Thursday.
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