POLITICS

Like immigration action, Obama plans to delay attorney general nomination until after election

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Holder is resigning after serving as head of the Justice Department for six years.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Holder is resigning after serving as head of the Justice Department for six years. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Executive action on immigration isn't the only move President Barack Obama is delaying until after the Nov. 4 election to appease Democrats who worry that a backlash will cost them their race.

Obama also is putting off announcing his choice for attorney general.

Delaying an announcement of a replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, however, will set up a likely showdown with a lame duck Senate later this year.

Senate Democrats have asked Obama to wait so controversy doesn't arise over whether they will support a specific nominee. Not only that, a delay would give Obama more time to consider his options.

Earlier this month, the New York Times, citing unidentified sources, reported that the front-runner for attorney general apparently was U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez.

But the Associated Press reports that a White House official said on Tuesday that the president has not yet decided who he wants to replace Holder, a longtime friend and political ally who announced last month he will step down whenever a new attorney general is confirmed.

The White House is preparing for the prospect of trying to push through a nominee in the year-end congressional session while Democrats still have a 10-seat majority in the Senate.

Obama faces the likelihood of an even tougher challenge to win confirmation if he waits until the new Senate is seated early next year, since Republicans are expected to pick up seats in the midterm, if not to win outright control.

Some Senate Republicans have called on Obama to wait until the new Senate is seated in January to make the nomination.

The lame duck timetable is compressed into just seven legislative calendar weeks, not counting time off for holiday recesses. But the White House has pointed out that there is precedent for such a move. The day after the 2006 midterm, President George W. Bush nominated Robert Gates as secretary of defense and he was confirmed in less than a month with bipartisan support.

Obama seems to be looking most closely at those who already have served in his administration. Top contenders include Perez, Solicitor General Don Verrilli and former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, although those involved with the process say other candidates haven't been ruled out.

Perez, who is 53 and is the son of Dominican immigrants, had been considered by political observers an ideal nominee, given his background as a Justice Department civil rights official.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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