For the Senate, a Breezy Confirmation Vote

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch both voted for Vazquez. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This one was easy.  

After last week's relatively dramatic floor vote to confirm Wilhelmina Wright to be a district judge in Minnesota, 58-36, the Senate voted to confirm John Vazquez to be a district judge in New Jersey .  

3 Things to Watch for in the Senate Judicial Vote

Hey, I used to work with that guy! Christie has a connection to Vazquez. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate returns Wednesday for its first vote since Winter Storm Jonas slammed the East Coast, on the confirmation of John Vazquez to be a district judge in New Jersey. While the vote is a seemingly routine calendar item , Vazquez' nomination brings up issues across all three branches of government, and even the 2016 presidential race.  

Here is a quick rundown of items to note about Vazquez as he faces his vote. He used to work for Chris Christie . Vazquez was an assistant U.S. attorney working under Christie when the New Jersey governor and GOP presidential candidate was U.S. Attorney for the Garden State. Vazquez worked as a federal prosecutor from 2001 to 2005, while Christie was appointed to the role in 2002 and served until 2008, when he resigned to run for governor.  

Senate Deal to Confirm Judges Holds, for Now

Klobuchar, left and Sen. Al Franken, helped shepherd Wright's nomination, but had to sweat out the floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It took a little finesse, but a Senate deal to confirm five of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees held this week, despite pressure from a key conservative interest group to shut down the process entirely.  

"Did you wait for me?" Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asked floor staffers as she entered the chamber. "Is it a tight vote?" The Republican-controlled chamber eventually did confirm Judge Wilhelmina Wright to be a U.S. district judge in Minnesota Tuesday, but the 58-36 vote belied tension on the floor as "no" votes piled up from GOP leaders and the rank and file, amid Heritage Action for America's announcement it would hold senators accountable if they voted for her.  

Reid Whacks Grassley Over Clinton Emails, Nominees

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate's week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails.  

"Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment's notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They're not partisan. They're diplomats," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a floor speech. "That's why it's troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions." In a Monday afternoon statement responding to Reid's remarks, Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he is holding 22 State Department nominees over unanswered questions about State's personnel rules and its policing of potential conflicts of interest.  

Explaining the Cracks in Ted Cruz's State Department Blockade

Cruz's State Department holds do not apply to career ambassadors. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"I intend to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State."  

That quote, from a July 16 letter from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to President Barack Obama sounded pretty straightforward. But, it turns out that career ambassadors are not State Department nominees, at least according to the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful.  

Foreign Relations Leaders Still Question Human Trafficking Report

Corker, left, and Cardin met Thursday with State Department officials and the full Foreign Relations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State Department still has some explaining to do after a closed briefing Thursday with Senate Foreign Relations Committee members over allegations that a report vital to several administration initiatives was watered down for political purposes.  

Committee members have cried politics since July when the annual Trafficking in Persons report was released. After Thursday's briefing, senators called for more transparency in the process that saw Malaysia and Cuba upgraded from the lowest ranking in terms of human-trafficking conditions. “My concerns were not alleviated in any way,” Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. “I don’t think there is anybody who was there that didn’t feel even more firmly that politics played a major role in determining some of the upgrades in the TIP report.”  

Obama Names Nominee to Federal Reserve Board
McConnell Puts Squeeze on New Obama Federal Judges

McConnell talked to Hugh Hewitt about Republicans limiting the confirmations of Obama's judicial nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama shouldn't be too optimistic about getting a lot of federal appeals court judges confirmed by the Senate.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked for an update on the judicial confirmation process in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and the Kentucky Republican made clear that so far the GOP-led Senate has focused its confirmation efforts on a particular variety of federal judge.  

Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:29 p.m. | Get ready to start calling her "Attorney General Loretta Lynch." The Senate voted to confirm the first African-American woman attorney general Thursday afternoon, but the scars from the long, tortured confirmation process will linger far longer. The Senate voted 56-43 to confirm the nomination Thursday afternoon, a couple of hours after voting 66-34 to end a filibuster.  

It's the most votes ever against a successful attorney general nominee .  

For Lynch, Next Week Just Might Be the Week

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the end of a week that saw bipartisanship break out all around the Senate, Loretta Lynch remained in limbo.  

The Thursday afternoon announcement there would be no further Senate votes for the week guaranteed that the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney, President Barack Obama's nominee to be attorney general, would enter another week awaiting Senate confirmation. The contrast was on the president's mind Friday.