Senate debate on revoking Gonzales's appointment authority begins

Not a moment too soon with the political firings emerging from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's office, the Senate will today begin debate on the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, legislation that will reverse a provision slipped into the USA Patriot Act to give Gonzales unfettered power in selecting new U.S. Attorneys.

Without notice, the Bush administration inserted a provision into the Patriot Act reauthorization last year, changing the law so that Gonzales would be able to fill any vacancies for an indefinite period of time – thus completely avoiding the Senate confirmation process.

S.214, was proposed by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by 14 Democrats and Republican Arlen Specter, and amends the federal judicial code to allow the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. Attorneys for only 120 days. If after that time the President has not sent a nominee to the Senate and had that nominee confirmed, the authority to appoint an interim U.S. Attorney would fall to the district court.

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