Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are facing a choice of whether to delay for a week a committee vote on Eric Holder Jr.’s nomination to be attorney general.
The vote had been scheduled for this morning but has been pushed back to 2:30 p.m. It was delayed because several committee members wanted to attend a prayer service at the National Cathedral.
On Friday, Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) raised the possibility that a Republican might try to “put over” the nomination to next week, exercising a senator’s right to such a delay. “I would hope that nobody would put it over because Democrats never put over Mukasey or Ashcroft or Gonzales,” Leahy, referring to the last three attorneys general, said during an interview with Legal Times.
“So it would be a helluva double standard if somebody put it over,” Leahy added. “It would be horrible for the department.”
No Republican has said that he will ask for a delay.
The committee held three rounds of questions from senators Thursday, when Holder testified. That gave each senator at least 20 minutes to question Holder, though Leahy allowed some members to take more time. Republicans, including ranking GOP member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said they still needed more time, and some asked Holder to submit answers in writing.
Specter was asked about a committee vote for Holder during an interview this morning on the radio show of Philadelphia lawyer Michael Smerconish. Here’s what Specter said, according to his office:
“Well, we will eventually vote him out of committee. Whether we will do it today or not, I don’t know. Each senator has the right to hold it for a week. I do not intend to do that. I have expressed my concerns about being rushed here. If we vote on him today, I’m going to vote ‘pass’ because I haven’t had a chance to ask him all the questions I want and he’s scheduled to come in tomorrow. I think Senator Leahy has made a—should have given us more time, and some of my colleagues are very ruffled. In the long run, I don’t think the time will alter the conclusion, but we’ll move ahead on Holder.”
Specter has met privately with Holder at least once since Holder’s nomination Dec. 1.