WASHINGTON (CNN) - The first taste of the rough and tumble partisanship in the new Congress could be on public display Thursday when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers Attorney General designate Eric Holder's nomination.
Democratic Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, who controls the committee, appears highly likely to have the votes to approve Holder's nomination, but Republicans could make it a bruising and divisive confirmation fight for Holder.
Sen. Arlen Specter has vowed to scrutinize the record of the former Deputy Attorney General.
"There are questions that have to be inquired," he said.
A chief concern of Specter and fellow Republicans is Holder's handling of the controversial last-minute pardon of fugitive Marc Rich as President Clinton left office. Holder's willingness as Deputy Attorney General to go along with the pardon over the objections of U.S. Justice Department career prosecutors continues to haunt Holder, who admits he mishandled the case.
Critics also blame Holder for backing pardons for convicted FALN Puerto Rican prisoners who had committed acts of violence.
"We need to be sure the Attorney General does not bend his views in any way that is partisan or political," Specter said.