Last Thursday, the administration abruptly dropped
its opposition to a bill that would require Senate confirmation for U.S. attorney replacements. But Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) "still intends to object," Roll Call reports
Just how disruptive that objection will be is up to Kyl. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) intends to bring the legislation up for a vote "as quickly as possible," his spokesman tells Roll Call
. By the rules of the Senate, which give individual senators considerable power to stymie legislation, Kyl could gum up the works with his objection, or he could simply sound his disapproval and let the bill come up for a vote.
Kyl has already blocked the bill, authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), once. Republicans blocked it a second time when Feinstein tried to attach it as an amendment to another bill.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), would reverse a change slipped into the colossal PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill in December of 2005, by Specter's chief counsel, Michael O'Neill. Feinstein's bill simply restores the law to the way it was before that change.
Before the change, the attorney general was allowed to appoint replacements for fired or retiring U.S. attorneys, but if the president hadn't nominated someone for Senate confirmation after 120 days, the local federal judge appointed a replacement. The law change removed that 120 day requirement, effectively allowing the administration to install appointments indefinitely without Senate confirmation.
Kyl (and until recently, the administration) has cited separation of power concerns as his objection to Feinstein's bill.