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Senate likely to receive Gonzales nomination for attorney general



Published: Wed, January 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Democrats say Gonzales' answers have been vague and question his record.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nomination of former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general probably will be sent to the Senate for approval despite complaints from Democrats, senators said Tuesday.

"There's no reason to hold him over," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "We'll vote on him one way or another."

Republicans control the committee by 10-8, so unless GOP senators decide not to show up or to vote against Gonzales, the nomination will move on to the full Senate for confirmation.

The Senate is not expected to vote until next week at the earliest.

More discussion

Several Democrats say they still want to talk more about Gonzales' career at the White House and as President Bush's top lawyer before the final vote. "I think we have to have a good healthy discussion on him," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Gonzales, who served as President Bush's lawyer during his first term, would replace John Ashcroft if confirmed and would be the nation's first Hispanic attorney general.

In written answers to Democrats' questions last week, Gonzales said he supported extending the expired federal assault weapons ban. He also told senators he wanted Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act this year, despite complaints that it is too intrusive.

Vague answers

Democrats complain that Gonzales has been evasive with his answers to their questions about White House policies in the war on terror. They have used Gonzales' nomination and that of secretary of state nominee Condoleezza Rice to criticize the Iraq war and the treatment of foreign prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The position of attorney general and the issues involved in this nomination go to the heart of our nation's commitment to the rule of law," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., in a Senate speech Monday. "A nominee whose record raises serious doubts about his own commitment to that basic principle should not be confirmed."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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