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Leahy Pushes January Vote on Holder

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday expressed hope that the Senate could confirm Eric Holder as the next attorney general immediately following President-elect Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Leahy said he was shooting for that target “if it all possible,” signaling Democrats see great urgency in approving key members of Obama’s Cabinet.

Following a meeting Monday afternoon with Holder, Leahy described the former Justice Department official as a “superb man.” But Leahy said he anticipated some Senate Republicans may resist the appointment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Judiciary panel, has raised questions about Holder’s fitness to be the next attorney general, citing his involvement in then-President Bill Clinton’s pardon of billionaire Marc Rich in 2000. Holder was deputy attorney general during that time.

Leahy said he would work with Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, to schedule Holder’s confirmation hearings. Holder met with Specter immediately after sitting down with Leahy.

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