Now They Want Sebelius
Looks like we may have a Health and Human Services Secretary by tomorrow, just in time to get started in the middle of a flu outbreak and fears of a pandemic. Funny how the GOP finally agreed to end the obstruction right at this time, ay?
On the flip side of this, I agree with Brian Beutler that the continued obstruction of Dawn Johnsen is troubling.
In fact, Dawn Johnsen's nomination to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel seems to be, if anything, in more trouble than does Sebelius'. There have been rumors of a Johnsen filibuster for weeks now, and outside groups, both pro-confirmation and anti, have been lobbying Congress as the process has all-but-ground to a halt. (Just today, the groups People For the American Way, Alliance for Justice, National Women's Law Center, and NARAL Pro-Choice America hosted a conference call for reporters during which former OLC-chiefs Walter Dellinger (who served under Clinton) and Douglas Kmiec (who served under Reagan and George H.W. Bush), along with Johnsen's Indiana University colleague Aviva Orenstein, made the case for a quick confirmation.)
Now, keep in mind that Sebelius will be a cabinet-level official while Johnsen will not, and in that sense it's plausible that Democrats have prioritized a vote on Sebelius' nomination in order to make Obama's cabinet whole. But it's also plausible that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) isn't as sure he can clear the cloture hurdle if the question on the floor is on the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen. More on the apparent disparity as I learn it.
Especially given the release of the OLC memos justifying torture and the display of how important that office is to upholding the rule of law, we need Johnsen in that seat now more than ever.
...Sebelius will still need 60 votes, by the way, though it appears safe that she can get them.