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Eye On Boise

Sens. Crapo, Risch standing by Nye nomination; Trump Administration also may support it

David Nye (Doug Lindley / Idaho State Journal)
David Nye (Doug Lindley / Idaho State Journal)

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By Betsy Z. Russell

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch say they’re standing by federal judge nominee David Nye and hoping for a confirmation vote in the lame-duck session of Congress that started today. And if it doesn’t come right away, they’ll continue to push for Nye’s nomination with the Trump Administration in 2017.

“Nye is still in play through the lame-duck,” said Lindsay Nothern, spokesman for Crapo. He noted that Nye already has won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’re that far, so hopefully we can get a vote,” Nothern said. “The hope would be that we can get it through on unanimous consent.”

Idaho has been down to just one active federal U.S. district judge since July of 2015, when longtime District Judge Edward Lodge took senior status, a move he’d first announced in September of 2014. The federal court system has declared a judicial emergency in Idaho due to the shortage of judges, and Idaho has been tapping out-of-state judges to hear Idaho cases. In addition, Lodge, 82, who intended to reduce his caseload when he took senior status, still is hearing cases.

Nye is No. 18 on a list of 20 presidential nominees for U.S. District Court judgeships who are awaiting confirmation votes in the full Senate, after clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The senators and the Obama Administration negotiated for a year and a half before settling on Nye as a nominee acceptable to both President Obama, a Democrat, and the two Idaho senators, both Republicans.

John Sandy, chief of staff for Risch, said, “It’s imperative to Idaho that we get this other judge.”

He said Risch remains committed to pushing for a full Senate vote on Nye during the lame-duck session, and if that doesn’t work, pursuing it in 2017.

Layne Bangerter, Idaho director for the Trump for President campaign and a member of the Trump transition team, said he wouldn’t predict any change in the Idaho nominee choice even after Trump takes office. “I think that’s a solid process that they have gone through, and that Donald Trump would support that,” he said.

Nothern said the lame-duck session is expected to be short. The main item of business is to keep the federal government operating; the current continuing resolution extending last year’s funding levels for government operations, enacted just 36 hours before the start of the new fiscal year in September, only runs through Dec. 9.

Nothern said he’s hearing two conflicting things about how the lame-duck session will go: “That they’re going to take on bills and judges, or just pass another extension of the budget and go home. So I think there are negotiations under way to see if we can get someplace, or if we’re just going to let it go and call it good ‘til December.”

Nye is currently a state district judge in Pocatello.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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