Senate GOP Blocks Law Enforcement Bill
An obscure passage in the Patriot Act allows the Bush administration to circumvent the Senate confirmation process and install political allies as U.S. attorneys while firing current ones at will without cause. Senate Democrats are trying to correct this breakdown of checks and balances:
Senate Republicans blocked a bill Thursday that would curb the Justice Department’s power to fire and replace federal prosecutors. Democrats had sought to give the courts a role in the appointments of U.S. attorneys, to GOP opposition.The Senate Democrats want to debate Iraq policy, but the Senate GOP obstructs debate. Now, the Senate Democrats want to revitalize checks and balances, and the Senate GOP obstructs debate. I smell a narrative building.
The objection by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to the proposal was long anticipated. So Democrats used the occasion to complain anew about the firings of at least seven prosecutors, some without cause, under a little-known part of the Patriot Act.
Democrats say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used the law to get around the Senate confirmation process and install Republican allies.