Mr. President, today marks the 40th day since the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General.
The Mukasey nomination was the culmination of a process in which the President was extremely solicitous of the views of the Democratic majority.
Let's recap. Our friends on the Democratic side of the aisle did not want the former Attorney General to continue in office and, as we all know, he resigned.
Our Democratic colleagues wanted to be consulted on whom the next Attorney General should be. Well, the administration consulted extensively with our Democratic friends.
Our Democratic colleagues did not want the former Solicitor General, Ted Olson, to be nominated. He, in my view, would have made an outstanding choice. But the administration did not nominate him.
Our Democratic colleagues said if, instead, the President ``were to nominate a ..... conservative ..... like Mike Mukasey,'' he ``would get through the Senate very, very quickly.'' Well, the President didn't nominate somebody like Mike Mukasey; the President nominated Mike Mukasey himself. He received widespread acclaim for taking that step.
So it is apparent the President acted in a very bipartisan fashion in reaching the decision he did to nominate Judge Mukasey.
So did our Democratic colleagues reciprocate to that act of good faith? At this point, it is kind of difficult to say they have. First, they held up the nomination for weeks before even scheduling a hearing--an action--or, more precisely, an inaction--which the Washington Post termed ``irresponsible.''
Then, despite the fact that Judge Mukasey testified for 2 days and answered 250 questions in the process, our Democratic colleagues asked him to answer an additional 500 written questions. By contrast, Attorney General Reno did not receive any written questions until after she was confirmed.
Then it took over 2 weeks for a markup to be scheduled. I understand one now has been scheduled for next Tuesday, and I am certainly glad that has finally occurred, but it shouldn't have taken nearly this long.
Months ago our Democratic colleagues told us ``this Nation needs a new Attorney General and it can't afford to wait.'' That was the cry on the other side: We need a new Attorney General and we can't afford to wait. Unfortunately, since then, we have been waiting and waiting and waiting. We have been waiting so long that Judge Mukasey's nomination is the longest pending Attorney General nomination in two decades.
Now the good news is that the markup has been set. We need to get Judge Mukasey's nomination to the floor for an up-or-down vote as soon as possible.
I think we have seen some unfortunate flareup of partisanship. Hopefully that will not continue and we can get Judge Mukasey to work down at the Justice Department where we all agree his services are very greatly needed.