Not all business in Congress has to be afflicted by partisan gridlock. Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) have been working across party lines to find capable nominees for federal court vacancies in Pennsylvania.
Their latest slate for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania - Nitza Quiñones Alejandro, Luis Felipe Restrepo, and Jeffrey Schmehl - are the type of candidates who should see speedy action by the U.S. Senate.
The three nominees will bring diverse experience and solid legal resumes to a court that has struggled to keep cases moving because more than one-fourth of its seats are empty.
Alejandro currently serves as a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge over both civil and criminal matters. She began her legal career in 1975 with Community Legal Services in the city.
Restrepo has served as a federal magistrate since 2006 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he has also presided over both criminal and civil matters. He began his legal career in 1986 as a law clerk with the National Prison Project.
Schmehl has served as president judge of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas since 2008, having joined that court as a judge in 1998. Schmehl began his legal career in 1980 as an assistant public defender in Berks County.
"These men and women have had distinguished legal careers, and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench," said President Obama in making the three nominations. "They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice."
Unfortunately, the Senate has a bad case of the slows on nominees, even those with bipartisan support. The Alliance for Justice reports that 46 judicial nominations are currently pending.
The delays have a whiff of partisanship to them. President Obama has seen only 73 percent of his judicial appointments confirmed at this point in his presidency - less than either President Bill Clinton (84 percent) or George W. Bush (90 percent), according to the alliance.
Though the president's fellow Democrats have a slight majority in the Senate, any senator can put a "hold" on a nominee. Any nominee can be filibustered - requiring a supermajority of 60 votes just to bring the nomination to the Senate floor.
The bipartisan support that Toomey and Casey offer is no guarantee of success. Two of their nominees for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Matthew Brann and Malachy Mannion, have awaited full Senate action for four months, despite near-unanimous approval by the Judiciary Committee. That court has been in a state of "judicial emergency" since 2009.
Americans are frustrated with the gridlock in Congress, which is again being seen in the "fiscal cliff" budget impasse. They want to see the warring factions compromise for the good of the nation. One way to show good faith with the people would be to act swiftly on good judicial nominees who have bipartisan support.