President Barack Obama enters his second year in office having filled only a third of the 93 top federal prosecutor spots in the nation, and no one’s even nominated for the four open positions in Texas, reports the Houston Chronicle. A political stalemate pitting Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation and Obama’s administration against Texas’ pair of Republican senators is partly to blame for the slowed process there. Similar fights in other states, as well as an especially cautious presidential nominating process, have left most of the nation without freshly appointed lead federal prosecutors, who direct law enforcement priorities and approve work on the big projects.
Instead, many of the seats have the same folks there when President George W. Bush was president or, as in Texas, the jobs are filled by someone bridging the gap. In Houston, that gap stretched to about 14 months and interim U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson last week announced he’s leaving next month for a private sector job. A second interim attorney has to be put in the Houston seat now. “This is the slowest I’ve ever seen it. There’s an unnecessary fight between members of Congress and the Senate, and it’s very disheartening. There’s a cost to the people of South Texas,” said Tony Canales, a Democrat who is the former Houston-based U.S. attorney.