Third Circuit nominee L. Felipe Restrepo was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last week, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell is expected to delay a confirmation vote unless Senator Pat Toomey intervenes on behalf of a nominee he says he supports. Consistent with how Democrats in the Senate treated George W. Bush’s Third Circuit nominee from Pennsylvania in 2007, when Thomas Hardiman was confirmed just one week after his committee vote, Toomey ought to be pushing McConnell for a vote this month, before the August recess.
Toomey and McConnell are apparently trying to make Pennsylvanians think Toomey is doing that, but they have not actually stated anything of the sort. Keep in mind that the key item Toomey is being asked to address is timing, with a vote this month. Pennsylvania newspaper The Legal Intelligencer reports:
Toomey's spokeswoman, E.R. Anderson, said the senator has already approached McConnell.
“Sen. Toomey supports the nomination of Judge Restrepo for the Third Circuit,” Anderson said in an email to The Legal. “As part of his efforts on this issue, the senator has spoken directly with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to emphasize the importance of getting Judge Restrepo confirmed.”
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said that while a date for the vote has not yet been scheduled, “Sen. Toomey has been calling us, so it's on the leader's radar.”
Note that Toomey and McConnell omit any mention of timing. Did Toomey ask for a prompt confirmation vote? Did he urge McConnell to let the Senate vote this month? Did he mention the precedent of confirming Judge Hardiman in 2007 just one week after he was approved by the Judiciary Committee?
Considering that timing is the crux of the issue, it is interesting that Toomey and McConnell’s characterizations of their communication both omit any mention of timing.
So will McConnell allow a vote this month? If Toomey chooses not to press for a July vote, he’ll certainly be making deliberate delay by McConnell much easier.