Reps wait as nominations move slowly in Washington

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BOSTON, Mass. (State House News Service)–House Majority Leader Claire Cronin’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to Ireland is nearly six months old and the Easton Democrat told the News Service on Tuesday that she’s still not sure when it might emerge for a Senate vote.

The News Service caught up with Cronin in person after she didn’t respond to email inquiries. She said only that her nomination was “pending” on the Senate calendar, but then elaborated a little. “They’re trying to get an awful lot of things done between now and the end of the year and there’s a possibility that could come up before then, but it’s unknown,” she said.

Unlike the state Legislature, which is on a seven-week break from formal sessions, Congress is in the midst of another late-year frenzy of activity. The Senate last week started to move forward on Biden’s nomination of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins to serve as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. The Rollins nomination could emerge for a final vote Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Charlie Baker would get to name an interim DA if Rollins is confirmed.

Along with the timing of a vote on her nomination, also unknown is the status of a six-member conference committee led by Cronin and Sen. Joan Lovely and charged with reconciling joint rules proposals (H 14 and S 68) governing access to written testimony on bills and the transparency of legislative committee votes. The panel first met on March 29, voted to shutter their deliberations, and has gone entirely dark since then.

President Joe Biden, who Cronin actively supported in last year’s campaign, nominated Cronin for the post in Dublin on June 23. In October, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations advanced the nomination. If confirmed, Cronin’s departure from the House would cause Speaker Ron Mariano to appoint a new House majority leader. Before becoming the majority leader this session, Cronin chaired the Judiciary Committee, helping to pass major criminal justice, abortion access and policing laws.

Rep. Maria Robinson of Framingham is also awaiting confirmation of her September nomination to join the Biden administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity. Robinson told the News Service earlier this month that she is waiting for her hearing in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and hoping it will be held early next year.

If Cronin and Robinson move on to their federal jobs, they would resign from the House, which would likely schedule special elections to refill their seats before the typical rush of legislating on Beacon Hill during the spring and early summer of 2022.

Voters in Boston, Cambridge, Revere and Winthrop head to the polls Tuesday to choose between Democrats Anthony D’Ambrosio of Revere and Lydia Edwards of East Boston, the only two candidates running to fill the Senate seat that Democrat Joe Boncore gave up to join the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. The winner of the Democratic primary faces no opponents in the Jan. 11 special election.

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