Senators, Eying Recess, Get to Work

With their chauffeurs waiting to whisk them away from Washington, D.C., for a week back home, the Senate moved quickly this morning to approve three of President Bush’s nominees, including long-stalled D.C. Circuit nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Starting shortly before 9 a.m., Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) first brought Kavanaugh to the floor. He won approval on a mostly party-line vote of 57-36. No Republicans defected and Democrat Senators Robert Byrd (W.-Va.), Thomas Carper (Del.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) supported his nomination. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s eight fewer than voted to invoke cloture last night.

Frist’s press office had a busy morning. Here’s press release No. 1:

“Today the Senate fulfilled its constitutional duty of advice and consent by giving Brett Kavanaugh the fair up-or-down vote he has waited three years to receive. Mr. Kavanaugh is an eminently qualified nominee of considerable experience and distinction. He will make an excellent appellate judge. As Majority Leader, I am committed to confirming additional judicial nominees to the bench who will practice judicial restraint and interpret the law strictly and impartially.”

After Kavanaugh, it was time to act on Gen. Michael Hayden’s nomination to head the CIA. Despite some grumbling from House Republicans after Bush picked him for the job, Hayden traveled an easy road through the confirmation process. He won approval on a 78-to-15 vote.

Press release No. 2 from Frist:

“This is a critical time for the CIA, and it’s vital that the agency have strong, experienced leaders such as General Hayden to provide steady guidance as we forge ahead in the War on Terror. With 20 years of experience in the intelligence community, he is the right man for the job. He’s committed to strengthening and reforming our intelligence community. He’s made clear his interest in an open and honest relationship with Congress and his respect for our oversight role. I have every confidence he will serve our nation well as CIA director, and I look forward to working with him.”

And finally, if you hadn’t had your fill of confirmation fever, the Senate completed the trifecta, giving Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne the reins to lead the Department of the Interior.

What would another confirmation be without a Frist press release? Here’s No. 3:

“Throughout the confirmation process, Dirk has impressed senators from both parties with his outstanding qualifications. His commitment to pursuing domestic energy expansion while protecting the environment will help advance the vital goal of reducing American dependence on foreign oil. Dirk’s years of dedication as a public servant will be a great asset as he assumes his important new responsibilities as Secretary of the Interior.”

Concerned Women for America’s Jan LaRue put it best following the Kavanaugh confirmation, recognizing the other nominees who weren’t so luck to get votes as senators packed their bags to head home.

“Time is running out for the Senate to move remaining nominees. Judge Terry Boyle, Jim Haynes and William Myers are just a few who are being denied a hearing or a vote. Judge Boyle has been waiting more than five years for a vote. Under the Senate’s immigration bill, millions of illegals will become citizens in shorter time.

“Sen. McCain [R-Arizona] opposes Jim Haynes, and his good buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-South Carolina] is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has 10 Republicans and eight Democrats. What other reason is there that Haynes has been waiting since his hearing in 2003 for a vote? If McCain and Graham are the obstructionists, they’d better heed their own words about nominees deserving up-or-down votes, or get ready to take the heat.”