Confirming a new attorney general to replace
Some observers believe the White House will opt for a more subdued choice, one who would have an easier path in the Senate, such as the administration’s Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr., or the No. 2 official at the
A historic choice would be Preet Bharara, the high-profile U.S. attorney in New York, as the first Asian American to the job, or as one Democrat suggested, California’s Atty. Gen.
One point is certain: The eventual nominee will face a potentially spirited confirmation battle. Republicans had long fumed over Holder's handling of the Justice Department and they will be certain to hold the next top law enforcement official responsible.
"The relationship has been pretty scarred over the last six years," said a Republican aide in the Senate, unauthorized to discuss the situation publicly. "I think they'll look at it pretty closely."
Complicating the confirmation will be the political dynamics in the post-election lame-duck session of Congress that is scheduled to begin Nov. 12.
If Republicans take the majority in the Senate, Democrats will be poised to swiftly approve the new attorney general as well as dozens of Obama's picks for judges and administrative posts in the final weeks of the year before relinquishing control of the chamber in January.
That will certainly be met with protests by Republicans, especially after Democrats changed historic Senate rules this session to allow a simple majority for confirmation of some nominees, taking away the filibuster-stopping power of the minority. Democrats now have a 55-seat majority.
With Republican opposition, any nominee could take as long as three weeks before even clearing the
Following that, the Senate floor debate could take a week to clear all the procedural hurdles at the Republican minority's disposal to stall the vote.
Holder’s detractors in Congress have long been at odds with his handling of the Justice Department, including the
Those issues, along with the post-election political environment in the Senate, are likely to ensure a long conversation about the nation's next attorney general before the end of the year.