Senators Confirm Clinton, Delay Action On Holder The Senate voted 94-2 to confirm Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, but a Senate panel delayed action on attorney general nominee Eric Holder for at least a week.
NPR logo Senators Confirm Clinton, Delay Action On Holder

Senators Confirm Clinton, Delay Action On Holder

The Senate voted 94-2 Wednesday to confirm Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, giving a strong show of support for a former colleague. But the confirmation process on another key Obama administration nominee — Eric Holder for attorney general — was delayed by a Senate committee for a week.

Clinton "has the full package," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Senate shortly before the vote, as he touted Clinton's background.

Democrats had hoped to confirm Clinton on Tuesday, shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, but that plan was stopped when Sen. John Cornyn of Texas objected.

Cornyn, a Republican, said he had continuing concerns about foreign donations to the foundation headed by Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton. He said he wanted "a full and open debate and an up-or-down vote on Sen. Clinton's nomination."

Those concerns were the focus of much of Clinton's confirmation hearing earlier this month, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subsequently voted 16-1 to recommend her confirmation.

Another Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, went to the Senate floor Wednesday morning and urged the chamber to not delay Clinton's confirmation.

"I think the message that the American people are sending us now is they want us to work together and get to work," the 2008 GOP presidential nominee said, urging a vote.

Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, both Republicans, voted against confirming Clinton.

The way ahead may not be as smooth for Holder. Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee used a procedural move Wednesday to delay a vote on his nomination for at least a week, saying they wanted to question him on several topics.

Among them is whether U.S. intelligence agents could be prosecuted for the harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects, and the status of trials for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sought a vote Wednesday to send the nomination to the full Senate, but GOP members invoked a rule that grants an automatic weeklong postponement.

The Guantanamo Bay war crimes court was halted Wednesday after President Obama said he wanted to review U.S. strategy for prosecuting terrorists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.