Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jill Pryor Poised for Senate Vote

R. Robin McDonald
Daily Report, August 1, 2014
The U.S. Senate voted late Thursday night to close debate on the nomination of Atlanta attorney Jill Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. But Pryor’s confirmation will likely remain on hold until the Senate—which closes down for its August break at the close of business Friday—reconvenes in September.

The 58-33 vote at 9:06 p.m. Thursday to invoke cloture paves the way for a vote by the full Senate to confirm Pryor, a partner at Atlanta’s Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, as a federal appellate judge. A cloture vote was required because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unable to obtain unanimous consent to bring Pryor’s nomination to the floor for an up-or-down vote without first allowing time for debate.

According to the Senate Democrats’ website, the vote to close debate on Pryor’s nomination was the last vote the Senate will take until it reconvenes in September. The Senate was slated to adjourn Friday for an August break.

In calling for the cloture vote, Reid requested that if the Senate voted to close debate on Pryor’s nomination, that it proceed to a confirmation vote at 5:30 p.m., Monday Sept. 8, according to the Congressional Record.

In support of the cloture motion, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chastised his Senate colleagues, saying that for the fifth year in a row, more than a dozen qualified, consensus judicial nominees pending before the full Senate will remain on the Executive Calendar during the August recess.

“Each year, I have come before the Senate to remind my fellow senators that their refusal to take action on these nominations prior to the August recess is an unfortunate departure from Senate tradition and to urge them to stop their obstructive practices and delay tactics,” Leahy said. “Again, I am disappointed to see partisanship and senseless obstruction continue to keep the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duty of advice and consent.”

And he added, “I am glad that we are voting to overcome the Republican filibuster of the nomination of Jill Pryor, and I thank the majority leader for taking action on her nomination. If the Senate were operating as it once did, without this partisan treatment of judicial nominations, she would have been confirmed weeks ago.”

Leahy also said that the Senate could have chosen to vote to confirm 13 federal judicial nominees whose nominations have been approved by his committee by a unanimous voice vote but are still awaiting a vote by the full Senate. Five of them, including Pryor, are from Georgia.

“Instead,” Leahy said, “we are voting to invoke cloture on only one nomination, that of Jill Pryor, to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. She has received the American Bar Association's highest rating of unanimously “well qualified” and has the support of both of her Republican home state senators. She will no doubt be confirmed unanimously, or near unanimously, when we return in September. As the senior senator from Georgia, Mr. Chambliss, noted at her confirmation hearing, `Jill Pryor has been in private practice in Atlanta for nearly 25 years. During that time she has played a pivotal role in some of the largest and most complex cases in Georgia history.’ We have before us an outstanding candidate to serve on the federal bench. Yet her nomination is being filibustered by Senate Republicans who are delaying her vote for the sake of obstruction.”

“This year, Senate Republicans have proceeded to filibuster each and every judicial nominee,” Leahy continued. “After today, the Senate will have taken 62 cloture votes on judicial nominations so far this year, amounting to well over 400 wasted hours the Senate should have spent considering legislation to help the American people. Never before has the Senate seen the systematic filibuster of every judicial nominee, or such unfair treatment of qualified, consensus nominees.”

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