Leahy Vows Quick Vote on Holder

Posted December 1, 2008 at 12:24pm

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Monday he would move to confirm Eric Holder as the next attorney general as quickly as possible, perhaps even before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.

Leahy said he hopes to schedule Judiciary Committee hearings and a confirmation vote before the Jan. 20 inauguration. A Senate vote could occur shortly thereafter.

Leahy added that he would consult with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, to try to package votes on all Obama’s top Justice appointees.

“If it could be worked out, my idea would be to go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, so that that American people could seen the package as a whole,” he said.

The Vermont Democrat promised fair confirmation hearings for Holder, even though he was involved in the then-President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich. Holder was Clinton’s deputy attorney general.

“I suspect somebody will bring it up … but, it wasn’t Eric Holder who gave that pardon. It was President Clinton who did,” Leahy said.

Leahy praised Holder’s nomination to serve as the head of the Justice Department, saying he will help rebuild morale and public confidence in the troubled agency. The Justice Department has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, particularly after the 2006 firings of several U.S. attorneys under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

“After the scandals that have undermined the public’s trust in the Justice Department and that have damaged the morale of its dedicated professionals, it would be especially fitting to bring in a leader who is widely admired by the staff and especially by the professionals of the U.S. attorneys’ offices across the nation,” Leahy said.