This afternoon, by a vote of 77-20 the Senate confirmed Judge Thomas Vanaskie to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Thomas Vanaskie has been a judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 1994, and from 1999 to 2006 he served as the district's chief judge. Today, Senator Specter (D-PA) took to the floor to praise Vanaskie as highly qualified, and urged his colleagues to support his confirmation. He was nominated to the Third Circuit by President Obama on August 7, 2009. Even though he was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 16-3 in December, he has waited over four months for final confirmation.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the nomination of judge Denny Chin to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit tomorrow. While this movement is positive, it is only a drop in the bucket compared to the outstanding nominations awaiting final confirmation. Despite the fact that Jane Stranch, who was nominated on the same day as Vanaskie to the Sixth Circuit, has support from both home state Republican Senators, and was voted out of committe with a bipartisan vote of 15-4, she has yet to be scheduled for a vote even though she has waited nearly 260 days for confirmation. Also awaiting confirmation are Circuit Court nominees Alberto Diaz, and James Wynn in addition to 20 district court nominees.
Yesterday, in an effort to alleviate the slow pace of confirmations for both judicial and executive nominees, Senators Whitehouse (D-RI) and McCaskill (D-MO) took to the floor to call out the anonymous holds by the GOP that continue to obstruct the confirmation process. This video, from the Huffington Post speaks for itself: