Brushing aside Republican senators' concerns, Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a "guarantee" Thursday that Eric Holder Jr. will be the next attorney general.
"Every senator has the right to vote for or against a nominee. I can guarantee you this: Eric Holder is going to be confirmed as attorney general of the United States," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at a news conference.
Leahy (D-Vt.) further predicted that Holder would be confirmed with "an awful lot of Republican votes."
The show of confidence comes one week before Holder's scheduled confirmation hearing and amid GOP rumbling about whether Holder would be independent from the Obama administration and about his time as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton.
"We'll hold the hearing. It will be a fair and open hearing," Leahy said. "In the end, Eric Holder is going to be the next attorney general of the United States, and the Department of Justice will be on a better path."
He accused Republicans of kowtowing to former Bush adviser Karl Rove in their resistance to Holder. He cite Rove's appearance on the Today show Dec. 2, when Rove referred to Holder as Obama's "one controversial nominee."
"The tone changed almost immediately after Karl Rove was on the Today show and expressed that this was a nominee that Republicans should oppose," Leahy said. "Senators should be independent, and they should reflect their responsibility to the country and to their constituents."
He made his comments at the second news conference in two days organized by Holder's supporters. Leaders of law enforcement associations and unions praised Holder's experience as a judge, federal prosecutor, and high-ranking official at the Justice Department, where they said he kept an open door for their concerns.
"We know that his experience as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia gave him experience as a street-crime prosecutor," said Joseph Cassilly, president of the National District Attorneys Association and a Maryland prosecutor.
On Wednesday, civil rights leaders called for Holder's swift confirmation.