[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder [professional profile] will be delayed [hearing notice] one week, after Republicans objected that they did not have enough time to review Holder's record. Hearings were originally scheduled to begin January 8, but will now begin January 15, following a request for more time [press release] issued last week by ranking Republican committee member Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website]. Leahy expressed disappointment with the delay, saying:
[T]o accommodate the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, at their request we are delaying the hearing, again, until January 15. ... It is disappointing to me that [the Republicans] 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.Also Monday, Holder returned [press release] his bipartisan questionnaire [text, PDF] to the Judiciary Committee.
After meeting with Holder last week, Leahy said that he hoped to begin the hearings as soon as the Senate reconvened [JURIST report] in January. President-elect Barack Obama officially announced his nomination of Holder [JURIST report] earlier this month. Holder served as Deputy US Attorney General [archive materials] during the Clinton administration. Republicans have criticized [JURIST report] Holder for his role in the 2001 pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich [Time backgrounder]. If confirmed by the Senate, Holder would be the first African-American to lead the Justice Department.