The Senate Judiciary Committee has decided to delay confirmation hearings for Eric Holder after Republicans protested that the Democrats failed to give them enough time to review the record of Barack Obama's choice for attorney general.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the panel, said Monday that he would push back the hearing until Jan. 15, a week after it had originally been scheduled.
Republicans had complained that the quick pace would prevent them from reviewing Holder's record, including his role in Bill Clinton's controversial 2001 pardon of billionaire financier Marc Rich. But Leahy said his schedule for the hearing was on the same pace afforded to other attorney-general nominees.
Leahy didn't bend to the demand of his GOP counterpart, Sen. Arlen Specter, that the hearing be scheduled after Jan. 26. But he said the delay was intended to assuage GOP concerns.
Here's Leahy's full statement:
"The Committee has not yet received the names of other designees for high-ranking Department of Justice officials that we had anticipated and more time is now available to the Judiciary Committee. Therefore, to accommodate the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, at their request we are delaying the hearing, again, until January 15. The Assistant Republican Leader said last year that 'attorney general nominees have been confirmed, on average, in approximately three weeks.' Nonetheless, in order to accommodate the Republicans members, I am rescheduling the hearing on Mr. Holder for twice that long, until more than six weeks after his official designation. It is disappointing to me that they are insisting that we delay at a time when the nation needs its top law enforcement officer and national security team in place and working. I trust that with this additional time to prepare, they will cooperate in proceeding promptly to Committee and Senate consideration of the historic Holder nomination as Democrats did for President Bush."