As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy will play a key role in reviewing the President’s nominee for attorney general.
Congress is in recess until after the November election but it is expected to hold what is known as a “lame duck” session at that time.
Senate Republican leaders don’t want to hold confirmation hearings on Eric Holder’s replacement until the start of the new Congress in January. That’s because they hope to win enough seats in the election to regain control of the U.S. Senate.
Leahy says he’s urging the President to make the appointment as soon as possible. “I’m encouraging the President to go sooner because it’s a case where Attorney General Holder wants to leave, he’s earned the right to. He’s done a superb job, but we must have somebody as chief law enforcement officer of the country,” Leahy said. “They make major decisions.”
Leahy points out that a similar situation took place after the 2006 election, when the Democrats won a majority of Senate seats.
President George Bush nominated Robert Gates to be defense secretary the day after the election, A confirmation vote was held during the lame duck session.
Leahy says the Republicans have a short memory when it comes to this kind of bipartisan cooperation.
“I’m very disappointed in senators who know better who are trying to make it a partisan thing. This is the attorney general of the United States, chief law enforcement officer of the country who represents 320 million Americans,” said Leahy. “He doesn’t represent Republicans or Democrats; he represents all of us.”
Instead of stonewalling the President’s nomination, Leahy is urging Republican leaders to become part of the process to help select a new Attorney General.
“What they ought to be doing is sitting down with the President, as I will, and others will and say, 'Let’s get the best man or woman for the job and let’s agree on that,'” said Leahy. “And let’s send a signal to law enforcement around the country we don’t play politics with the position of Attorney General.”
Leahy has seen the names of some of the potential nominees. He says there are a number of very qualified people under consideration who would receive bipartisan support in the Senate.