Senate Panel Postpones Votes on Four DOJ Nominees
By Andrew Ramonas | May 5, 2011 12:22 pm

Four Justice Department nominees may have to wait until at least next week for consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel recessed Thursday without holding votes.

Nominees Virginia Seitz for Office of Legal Counsel Assistant Attorney General, Donald Verrilli for Solicitor General, Lisa Monaco for National Security Division Assistant Attorney General and Denise O’Donnell to be Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance are slated to be considered when the committee returns, which may be Monday afternoon, panel Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said.

The committee recessed without any votes after it was unable to reach a quorum of 10 members. There were only nine members present.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top panel Republican, was the only member of his party present. Every Democrat on the committee was present except for Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Grassley appeared not to know he would be the only Republican present until his staff briefed him during the meeting.

“I’m sorry because we have people who should be moved, including a key member of our national security team at a time of real importance to have those national security team [members] in place,” Leahy said.

During the meeting, Grassley reiterated his frustration with what he sees as a lack of cooperation from the Justice Department in his investigation of a controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun smuggling program. He said DOJ efforts to respond to his document requests about Operation Fast and Furious — which allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in an effort to track them — “makes my rear end ache.”

Grassley and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have sent several letters to the Justice Department and the ATF, a DOJ agency, asking for records and documents about the program. Issa has threatened to try to hold ATF officials in contempt of Congress because they have not responded to his queries. They also sent congressional investigators to Arizona as part of their probe.

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