Jon Kyl, the Senate's second highest-ranking Republican, escalated pressure on Democrats to delay Eric Holder's confirmation hearings, but he said that the GOP has no plans to filibuster Barack Obama's choice for attorney general.
Kyl, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, says there is "absolutely no desire to slow the process down and filibuster" and he sees "no reason why, if he is qualified, and if he is confirmed, that he could not take office very soon after" Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20.
"There is a great deal of information that is not yet available, all to the point where it is going to take a little bit of time left to prepare for the hearing," Kyl said, asking for Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to delay hearings by at least a week.
"Nobody is talking about a long, long delay," he said.
Kyl's comments come a day after the panel's ranking member, Arlen Specter, said he saw no way the hearings could start before Jan. 26. Leahy has scheduled hearings to start Jan. 8 and has rejected calls to delay the proceedings.
Kyl said Republicans would closely examine Holder's role as a high-ranking Justice official under Bill Clinton in the controversial pardon of the wealthy financier Marc Rich.
But he did not know if that was enough to disqualify him from the post. Of course, the calculus could change should Holder stumble in his confirmation hearings.
In any event, the GOP will have a much smaller minority next Congress and will face an uphill task to persuade 41 senators to block any of Obama's Cabinet nominees.