GOP Blocks Gonzales No-Confidence Vote

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By LAURIE KELLMAN
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 12, 2007; 2:44 AM

WASHINGTON -- Republicans blocked a Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Monday, rejecting a symbolic Democratic effort to force him from office amid blistering criticism from lawmakers in both parties.

The 53-38 vote to move the resolution to full debate fell seven short of the 60 required. In bringing the matter up, Democrats dared Republicans to vote their true feelings about an attorney general who has alienated even the White House's strongest defenders by bungling the firings of federal prosecutors and claiming not to recall the details.

Republicans did not defend him, but most voted against moving the resolution ahead.

Monday's vote was not the end of scrutiny for Gonzales and his management of the Justice Department _ more congressional hearings are scheduled and an internal department investigation continues.

Short of impeachment, Congress has no authority to oust a Cabinet member, but Democrats were trying anew to give him a push. Gonzales dismissed the rhetorical ruckus in the Senate, and President Bush continued to stand by his longtime friend and legal adviser.

"They can have their votes of no confidence, but it's not going to make the determination about who serves in my government," Bush said in Sofia, Bulgaria, the last stop on a weeklong visit to Europe.

"This process has been drug out a long time," Bush added. "It's political."

The attorney general said he didn't plan on leaving anytime soon.

"I am focused on the next 18 months and sprinting to the finish line," Gonzales said as he met Monday with child advocates in an impoverished Mobile, Ala., neighborhood.

In the Senate, seven Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the no confidence resolution.

Even before the controversy over fired prosecutors, lawmakers of both parties complained that Gonzales allowed Justice to violate civil liberties on a host of other issues _ such as implementing Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

One veteran Republican said Gonzales had used up all his political capital in the Senate.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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