The nomination of Robert Groves, President Obama's choice to lead the Census Bureau, hit a snag Thursday night when Republicans blocked the motion of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to proceed with Groves' confirmation.
"We have not yet been able to get [the nomination] cleared on this side," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in objecting to Reid's unanimous consent request.
Senate and House aides were unable to specify the cause for the holdup but noted that some Republicans may have outstanding questions for Groves, whose nomination was brought with unusual haste to the Senate floor after its approval on a voice vote by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee shortly before the Memorial Day recess.
One Democratic aide said the apparent hold on Groves' nomination is not cause for concern, considering how quickly the confirmation vote was brought to the Senate floor.
"Sudden movements make people nervous," said the aide. "Next week we'll know if there's a real problem or not."
Still, Census officials and outside groups have been frustrated by issues surrounding the director's nomination, which surfaced months ago when Republicans alleged that the Obama administration hoped to manipulate census data for political purposes.
Several Capitol Hill sources pointed to Republican members of Utah's congressional delegation as possible causes for the delay.
Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, met with Groves last month to express concerns about the undercount of Mormon missionaries in the 2000 census, which some say cost the state the apportionment of an additional House seat.
But Bennett indicated after the meeting he was confident that Groves would address his concerns.