As Congress kicks off its lame-duck session this week, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said this morning that he and fellow Idaho Sen. Jim Risch will be pushing hard for a vote on Idaho U.S. District Judge nominee David Nye, but they’ve not yet heard if any judicial nominations will be taken up during the post-election session – or how long or productive the session is likely to be.
“Sen. Risch and I both want very much to see this resolved this year in the lame duck, and that is what he and I are going to aggressively continue working for,” Crapo said.
At this point, Crapo said, senators want assurance from their leaders and the incoming Trump Administration about the overall approach. “One thing that could cause trouble in the Senate is if we were able to get, say, just some of the nominees,” Crapo said. Nye is No. 18 on the list of 20 federal district court nominees and three federal circuit court nominees awaiting final votes; all have been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not all won unanimous approval as Nye did. “If we start moving only the ones that are unanimous, and then others don’t move, then the senators from the states that nominees don’t move may cause trouble,” Crapo said. “So it’s never simple.”
All 20 of the district court nominees won unanimous approval, as did one of the three circuit court nominees, but the other two circuit nominees had split committee votes.
“Sen. Risch and I are currently working very hard to see if there is a pathway to move still in the lame duck,” Crapo said.
He said meetings later today may give senators some idea of the lame-duck session’s overall direction. He said he’s been hearing two dueling theories. “One theory is that the Republicans would want to wrap this up and get this whole budget for this particular fiscal year done so it doesn’t land on Donald Trump’s lap, and he can start his administration focusing on putting a new budget together for the next fiscal year, and start working for the development of and proposal of options to improve the budget process and so forth, without having to go through a cleanup job on the old budget. That’s one theory,” Crapo said, “which means that we would be working hard and long.”
“The other theory: We’ll be able to resolve all the fights and the discussions over this year’s budget, that have caused us to be in the standstill we’re in, next year with a different president, so let’s just do another CR and go into next year and work all this out without the threat of a veto from President Obama. You can argue that both ways,” Crapo said. “I don’t know. Personally, I think that we ought to try to get our business done. But I don’t know whether I’ll be in the majority. And frankly there’ll be a couple more theories before we get to the end of the lame-duck session.”
Crapo said the answer on whether Nye’s nomination will come up for a vote soon likely won’t come today, and “maybe not even next week."
By Betsy Z. Russell