Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed by one week a scheduled vote on the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Prompted by committee Republicans, the delay is a procedural tactic, and a common one--other Judiciary Committee nominees, including Attorney General Eric Holder, and OLC chief-designate Dawn Johnsen, suffered similar obstacles, as have myriad Obama nominees in other committees.
But in a coincidence that will no doubt please health care reform opponents, the delay will almost certainly push a floor debate over Sotomayor's confirmation into August. And if leaders don't postpone recess, that will further imperil Democratic hopes of finishing a bill in the Senate before adjournment.
"We expected that," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid. "This is not going to impact our schedule at all."
Planned or not, though, the delay highlights the time crunch Senate Democrats have faced for weeks now. Judiciary Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is reportedly seeking four days of debate over Sotomayor on the Senate floor. President Bush's Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito faced similar timeframes.
Senate Democrats are currently debating the 2010 Defense Authorization act, while the Finance Committee continues drafting a health care bill. If the Senate finishes work on the defense legislation before health care legislation has been finalized, and before Sotomayor has been reported out of committee, precious days will slip away as progress is made on neither.