WASHINGTON — Eric Holder's bid to become the first African-American attorney general was delayed Wednesday for at least a week when Republicans demanded more time to question him about harsh interrogations, Guantanamo trials and other topics.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, convened the panel Wednesday and asked for an immediate vote to send Holder's nomination to the Senate. Republicans then invoked the automatic delay one-week delay that committee rules permit.
The committee plans to meet again next Wednesday, and Holder's confirmation is not in doubt. He has solid Democratic support and enough backing from Republicans to prevent a filibuster — although no Republican has yet opposed the nomination.
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Leahy, D-Vt., said he was very disappointed by the Republicans' delay. "But they have that right," he said, lamenting that "this historic nomination is held over."
Holder testified before the committee last week and no further appearances are scheduled. But several Republicans will meet with the nominee over the next several days.
Questions that have arisen so far include whether intelligence agents could be prosecuted for harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists and the status of trials of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Guantanamo war crimes court was halted Wednesday after President Barack Obama said he wanted to review U.S. strategy for prosecuting terrorists.