Senate urged to vote on Rice nomination

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is urging her colleagues to vote to confirm assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice of Spokane to become a federal judge.

Rice was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee last October, but his final confirmation vote has been held up. President Obama last June nominated Rice to become Eastern Washington's newest federal judge.

If confirmed, Rice would replace U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley, who took senior status in 2009.

Rice has been a federal prosecutor since 1987.