Sen. Dianne Feinstein has come through for Republicans again.
The California Democrat announced on Friday afternoon that she would support President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, in a critical Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Tuesday. Her statement of support came about an hour after Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he would vote against the former federal judge.
Even if Feinstein is the only Democrat to support Mukasey in committee, he would emerge with a 10-9 vote, and would likely be confirmed by the full Senate. Feinstein's public support also lets Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) off the hook. Schumer has been undecided on Mukasey and would have been the swing vote if Feinstein had decided to oppose Mukasey. CNN is reporting that Schumer will now support Mukasey, but his staff has not yet put out a statement.
Feinstein's support for Mukasey comes just one week after she became the swing vote in favor of another high profile Bush nominee, Leslie Southwick, who was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 24 for an appellate court seat.
Feinstein says she's still troubled by Mukasey's evasive answers on the question of whether waterboarding constitutes illegal torture, but says she'll ask for clarification on his position after he becomes attorney general.
"I believe that Judge Mukasey is the best we will get and voting him down would only perpetuate acting and recess appointments, allowing the administration to avoid the transparency that confirmation hearings provide and diminish effective oversight by Congress," Feinstein said.