Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House on Sunday vowed to ignore Monday's Senate vote of no confidence in embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, calling it "purely symbolic."
Asked whether the vote will have any effect on President Bush, White House spokesman Tony Snow replied, "No."
Speaking to "Fox News Sunday," Snow said some lawmakers are looking for "political advantage."
"What we'll end up having is people burning off a day expressing their opinions, and then we'll have an opportunity to move on," he added.
But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's number two Democrat, criticized the White House for supporting the embattled attorney general - despite calls even from many Republicans for his ouster - while replacing Gen. Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Isn't it interesting that this White House is willing to fight to the death for Attorney General Gonzales, but not for Marine Corps General Peter Pace?" Durbin said to reporters.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday just after Snow, Durbin said he believes he would have supported Pace's renomination.
The renomination to another two-year term had been widely expected, and the papers had already been drafted. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Friday that some members of the Democrat-led Congress had warned him a renomination hearing would focus on the "past" and would be "a very contentious process." Gates said he will recommend to President Bush that he nominate Adm. Michael G. Mullen, currently the chief of naval operations, to the post.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he solicited views of "a broad range of senators" for Gates, and found many agreed with him that such a confirmation hearing "would have been a backward-looking debate about the last four years."
Durbin told Fox News that anyone who comes before the Senate will face "some tough grilling."
"So to suggest that tough sledding on Capitol Hill is a reason to pull the plug on General Pace's career I don't think is a good argument. If that's the argument, why are we standing behind Attorney General Gonzales?
"Here's a man who's been through rough sledding, has said some things on Capitol Hill which he's had to recant, who's had staff people say well, things were being done in the Department of Justice that shouldn't be done, and the president's willing to stand by his man."
Durbin is among the many Democrats who wants Gonzales gone.
Monday's non-binding vote will be over a non-binding resolution declaring Gonzales no longer has the confidence of the American people.
The attorney general has been at the center of numerous controversies involving civil liberties, including the administration's warrantless wiretapping program to eavesdrop on conversations between people in the United States and suspected terrorists overseas.
But the row that erupted into widespread calls for his dismissal began with the administration's firings of eight U.S. attorneys across the country. A Senate investigation into whether politics played a role in those firings led to Gonzales' contradicting himself in testimony and saying he could not recall many steps leading to the dismissals.
But Snow, on Fox, noted that each administration "has the right to hire and fire people who serve at his pleasure."