Well that was fast. After threatening to hold up the nomination of Eric H. Holder Jr. to be the nation’s 82nd attorney general—and the first black to hold that office—the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blinked.
The committee vote was 17 to 2, with only two Republicans, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, voting against the nomination.
Some Republicans had hoped to make the Holder nomination a demonstration of party strength in the face of a Democratic-controlled White House and Congress. But the air went out of that effort even before Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican, said on Tuesday that he would support Mr. Holder’s nomination.
Cornyn is struggling for relevancy in the post-Bush era. This is the same senator who delayed Hillary Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state but eventually voted for her.
Holder is the former deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration and a strong supporter of a hate crimes and employment discrimination legislation for gays. Gay activists have been among his fiercest defenders.
The nomination goes to the Senate floor and he is expected to be confirmed. The next order of business: The naming of 93 U.S. Attorneys. There are expected to be holdovers and President Barack Obama has said he wants to retain Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago—the federal prosecutor responsible for the Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Scooter Libby cases.