William Baer, the nominee to fill the vacant Antitrust Division chief post, will likely move forward to a vote in the full Senate in the coming weeks, according to a report by Reuters.
Baer’s nomination has been hung up because of confidential information contained in his FBI background report. The contents of the file are still unknown, but they were enough to prompt Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to call for a closed session in the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss them. Grassley, along with four others, voted against Baer, while 12 voted in favor in September. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina crossed party lines to support the nominee.
Baer, a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP, was nominated by President Barack Obama in February. The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has been without a Senate-approved chief since Christine Varney stepped down in August 2011. Its current acting Assistant Attorney General, Joseph Wayland, recently announced he is leaving the department this week. A new acting chief has not been named by the department.
Reuters reported the issue in Baer’s record stems from “personal behavior rather than his legal career.” Baer’s detractors all agreed he was professionally qualified for the job. But now, with Democrats maintaining their majority in the Senate, Baer’s nomination will likely come up for a vote before the end of the year, the report stated.
An unnamed congressional source told Reuters that Grassley will not try to block a vote on Baer, but he will likely vote against his confirmation. Despite the opposition, if Baer comes up for a vote, he will likely be confirmed.
Baer has a long history in antitrust law. He previously worked in the Federal Trade Commission as the Director for the Bureau of Competition.