Two Jewish Democrats gave President Bush’s attorney general nominee critical support in his confirmation bid.
U.S. Senate Democrats initially welcomed Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge and an Orthodox Jew, as more honest and professional than the most recent attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, who resigned under fire.
Key Democrats on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee balked in recent days, however, over Mukasey’s refusal to define as torture waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning. Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) have pledged to oppose him.
Late Friday, however, two Jewish Democrats on the committee, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who introduced his fellow New Yorker Mukasey to the committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have said they will vote him out of committee on Tuesday, despite their reservations. Their votes guarantee that Mukasey’s nomination will go to the full Senate.
Two other Jewish Democrats on the committee, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), have yet to decide. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the sole Jewish Republican on the committee, is expected to favor Mukasey, although he also has expressed reservations over the torture issue.