WASHINGTON — It could still be a few weeks before the nomination of a Pella Christian High School graduate is brought in front of the U.S. Senate.
Rachel Brand, formerly of Pella, was nominated to serve as U.S. Associate Attorney General in the Trump Administration. In early April, she cleared through the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee, but still awaits a vote from the full Senate. That vote could still be a few weeks away.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he wasn’t sure why the nomination of Brand became a partisan issue. Brand’s nomination cleared through the judiciary committee on an 11-9 vote among party lines.
“It’s a little more controversial than I thought it would be,” Grassley said Thursday. “She’s a pretty low-key person. ... I think she’ll get some Democrat votes on the floor of the Senate. I can’t give you a reason why it’s become somewhat partisan, because she’s well qualified.”
Grassley said a filibuster could be on the horizon once her nomination hits the floor for confirmation. While that could bring further delay, Grassley said she will eventually make it through the Senate.
“She may be filibustered,” Grassley said. “... It may take a while to get it done, but she’s going to be approved in the end.”
The associate attorney general is the third-ranking position in the U.S. Department of Justice. The office handles policies for issues involving civil justice, public safety, and law enforcement on the federal and local level.
Nominees generally need to have support of 60 Senators to be confirmed. It takes a two-thirds vote to end a filibuster and schedule a vote for a nominee. This can be avoided, however, by using the so-called “nuclear option.” This option lowers the threshold to end debate from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority.
Earlier this month, the “nuclear option” was imposed for just the second time in history. Democrats used the maneuver in 2013. Republicans used it to push through the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
To avoid needing the nuclear option, Republicans would need the support of eight Democrats to reach a two-thirds majority and schedule a vote for Brand.
Until Brand is confirmed, Jesse Panuccio is serving as acting U.S. Associate Attorney General.
President Donald Trump is the third president to nominate Brand for a position that needed Senate confirmation. She was appointed by former President George W. Bush for assistant attorney general, and served there from 2005-2007. In 2012, she was appointed by former President Barack Obama to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. She cleared Senate confirmation both times previously.
In the past, she has also served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy. She was also appointed as associate counsel to the president by Bush twice and served on the Bush-Cheney transition team in 2001.
Rod Rosenstein, nominee for the U.S. Deputy Attorney General, is also waiting to be confirmed. Rosenstein’s seat is the second-ranking position in the DOJ.
— Kyle Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.