Senate

Four nominees Dems are pushing through

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Senate Democrats are pushing through nearly two dozen of President Obama’s nominees in their final days in the majority.

Senators worked for nine hours on Saturday, casting dozens of procedural votes to set up confirmation for 23 nominees that Republicans have objected to.

{mosads}While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday canceled a vote on one of Obama’s controversial choices — Carolyn Colvin to be commissioner of the Social Security Administration — he is pressing ahead with the others.

Here’s a look at the nominations that are generating the most controversy.

Vivek Murthy, surgeon general

The biggest lightning rod in the nominations fight is Murthy, Obama’s choice for surgeon general.

Senate Democrats have set up a vote for Monday evening on his nomination, defying gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, which on Monday called Murthy a “political operative” unfit for the position.

Murthy, a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine who worked for Obama’s first presidential campaign, called gun violence a public health issue during his confirmation hearing and has expressed support for a ban on assault weapons.

Some Republicans argue Murthy isn’t experienced enough to be the nation’s top doctor, since he finished his medical training in 2006.

“The surgeon general is known as ‘the nation’s doctor,’ ” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “Unfortunately, Dr. Murthy’s experience does not demonstrate the leadership and knowledge of public health that we expect from our surgeons general.”

Sarah Saldaña, assistant secretary of Homeland Security

Republicans have fought to stop Saldana’s confirmation because she would be the official in charge of issuing worker visas to illegal immigrants under Obama’s executive actions.

“She will continue the pattern of lawlessness perpetuated by the president and the political leadership at the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said.

“Congress cannot and must not confirm anyone to lead an agency in DHS or other law enforcement agency who supports executive amnesty.”

Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of State

Later this week, the Senate will vote on Blinken’s nomination.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and potential White House contender in 2016, has objected to the nominee, arguing he has refused to answer his questions about the future of U.S. relations with Cuba.

“I personally have an objection to Tony Blinken’s nomination. He refused to answer my questions on Cuba policy in a straightforward way,” Rubio said. “I understand that at the end of the day that, if they’re willing to stay for a long period of time, they’re going to get him [confirmed], but I intend to force them to use all of that time.”

Robert Pitman, U.S. district judge for Texas

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a dozen judicial nominees last week, with all expected to be confirmed by the end of the week.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is set to become chairman of the Judiciary panel in the next Congress, says it is unprecedented for the Senate to vote on district court nominees during the lame-duck session.

Among the judges awaiting approval is Robert Pitman, the first openly gay judicial nominee in Texas history. He would be the first such nominee in any state represented by two Republican senators.

Here’s a full list of the judicial nominees that the Senate is considering:

– Stephen Bough to be a U.S. District Judge for Missouri

– Jorge Alonso to be a U.S. District Judge of Illinois

– Haywood Gilliam to be a U.S. District Judge of California

– Amit Mehta to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia

– Allison Burroughs to be a U.S. District Judge for Massachusetts

– John Blakey to be a U.S. District Judge for Illinois

– Amos Mazzant to be a U.S. District Judge for Texas

– Robert Pitman to be a U.S. District Judge for Texas

– Robert Schroeder to be a U.S. District Judge for Texas

– Joan Azrack to be a U.S. District Judge for New York

– Elizabeth Dillon to be a U.S. District Judge for Virginia

– Loretta Biggs to be a U.S. District Judge for North Carolina.

— Alexander Bolton contributed.

Tags Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Jeff Sessions Lamar Alexander Marco Rubio
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