CHICAGO — Sen. Mark Kirk has formed a search committee to recommend a future federal judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

The Illinois Republican announced Wednesday the formation of the bipartisan, statewide committee.

The panel will nominate someone to fill a vacancy created when Judge James F. Holderman became a senior judge last year.

The committee will have 16 members, each with legal experience. Among the members is former U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert.

Kirk says he's confident that the group will submit "the strongest applicant possible."

The applicant must be reviewed by President Obama, who will send the name of his nominee to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing and vote.

The majority of the Senate also must approve.

The application deadline is Feb. 14.