Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown moved one step closer to becoming a U.S. Attorney on Thursday. The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary unanimously approved Brown’s nomination to become the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

The nomination will next go before the full U.S. Senate. Brown said he has heard it is hard to predict how long it will take for the full Senate to take up the nominations, but he thinks there is a pretty good chance that it will be before the end of January.

“That is what I am hopeful for, but you never know,” Brown said.

If confirmed, Brown would represent the U.S. in cases for a 43-county area in Texas extending from Cooke County east to the state border and south to the gulf coast. The Eastern District includes divisions in Beaumont, Lufkin, Marshall, Sherman, Texarkana and Tyler.

Brown said if he is confirmed, he is planning to base his office in the United States Attorney’s Office in Sherman, but he will be in Beaumont often and will be traveling a great deal to the different offices in the district.

“I am looking forward to the new opportunity, while really reflecting on the wonderful experience of the last 17 years,” he said. “It is going to be very hard to say goodbye.”

Previously, the position for which Brown has been nominated was held by Malcolm Bales, who was nominated as U.S. Attorney by President Barack Obama in 2009. In September 2016, Bales retired following 34 years of work with the government, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Since that time, Brit Featherston has served as the acting-U.S. Attorney for the eastern district.

Brown started his legal career in 1995 while working with the firm of Cowles & Thompson. In 1999, Brown started his own law office focused on criminal, civil and family law.

Brown has represented Grayson County for the past 17 years, starting in 2001 when he was elected Grayson County Attorney. The position was abolished in 2005 and Brown then took on the role of Criminal District Attorney of Grayson County, which he retains to this day. In total, Brown has been elected to represent Grayson County five times, most recently in 2016.

Outside of his role as district attorney, Brown has also served on the state board for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department from 2009 through 2014 following his appointment by then Gov. Rick Perry. In this role, Brown was responsible for the oversight of a $330 million budget, 2,500 employers and the treatment of 1,500 youth offenders.

Locally, Brown has also been active with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grayson County, the Boy Scouts of America, the Grayson County Bar Association and other organizations.