[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/27/art.specter1.gi.jpg caption="Specter said he will support Holder, clearing the way for his nomination as attorney general to be confirmed."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Tuesday he will support the nomination of Attorney General-designate Eric Holder when the panel votes on it Wednesday.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, had angered Holder during the confirmation hearing 10 days ago when he questioned Holder's "fitness" for the office.
Specter questioned whether Holder would be politically independent from the White House, recalling Holder's refusal as deputy attorney general to seek an independent counsel for an investigation of allegedly questionable fund-raising by then-Vice President Al Gore.
A clearly annoyed Holder then warned Specter he was "getting close to the line in questioning my integrity."
It was the only heated exchange during a long day of testimony. Specter had also been particularly aggressive in challenging Holder's account of his role in the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich by President Bill Clinton.
And Specter, who later met with Holder privately, says he is satisfied on yet another point - that Holder is not intent on prosecuting Bush-era officials who were operating under what they presumed to be a lawful order when they engaged in harsh interrogation techniques.
"After considerable thought and analyzing a lot of factors I've decided to vote in favor of the confirmation of Mr. Holder," Specter told reporters.
He previously had been non-committal on the matter. His decision may foreshadow a unanimous committee vote.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, has also been publicly non-committal. Most, if not all, other Republicans on the panel are expected to back the nomination, if reluctantly. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has publicly declared his support for Holder.
All Democrats support Holder's confirmation, so passage is assured. With Specter agreeing to support the nomination, Holder's floor vote and swearing in could be accomplished by the end of this week. Outgoing Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip is serving as acting attorney general until Holder arrives at the Justice Department.