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Snow impacting Indiana nomination hearings

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If snow doesn't get in the way, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee may discuss on Thursday morning three Indiana federal judicial nominees and the long-delayed nomination of a Bloomington law professor for the Department of Justice.

Committee members are set to meet at 10 a.m. on pending executive branch nominations, including the controversial choice of Dawn Johnsen to lead the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel. The president tapped her in early 2009, but after a year of delay she is now going through the confirmation process again from the start. Her nomination was set for discussion a week ago, but senators left a meeting before her vote and postponed it. She is first on the agenda for this week.

Committee members are scheduled to begin discussions at 11:30 a.m. on six judicial nominations - including Jon DeGuilio for the Northern District of Indiana, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for two Southern District of Indiana openings. The White House announced the trio's nominations on Jan. 18.

The judiciary committee had planned to meet at 4 p.m. today on the judicial nominations, but the continuing snow emergency in Washington, D.C., cancelled the meeting. Both the Senate and House of Representatives have suspended votes this week because of the massive snowstorm hitting the district, which not only caused many national landmarks and federal government closings but is also creating problems for legislators trying to get to the area from their home districts.

The weather could cause even more delays and postponements on Thursday if the Senate Judiciary Committee can't get a quorum for the meeting, according to Erica Chabot, spokeswoman for committee chair Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. But by early afternoon today, the meeting was still expected to happen, she said. If it happens, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will preside.

If the nominations aren't discussed this week, legislators won't get to them until after the weeklong Presidents Day break that begins Monday. Some have speculated that President Barack Obama could make some recess appointments to get around the Senate confirmation hearings temporarily, but it's unclear whether that would happen or which nominees might be considered.

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