Attorney General Griffin B. Bell has decided to recommend the appointment of Peter F. Vaira Jr., head of the Justice Department's organized crime strike force in Chicago, to be the new U.S. attorney in Philadelphia.
But Bell said yesterday that he will delay announcement of his choice to replace the ousted David W. Marston until the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on the nomination of Benjamin R. Civiletti to be deputy attorney general.
The attorney general waved aside questions about Vaira yesterday, saying he wanted to hear first about the Civilietti nomination. Other department sources confirmed Vaira's selection, however.
Civileti's hearings have dragged on for a month while Republican members, led by Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) raised questions about Bell's controversial dismissal of Marston, a Repblican prosecutor.
The Senate committee tried twice yesterday to hold meetings to vote on the Civiletti nomination, a staff member said. Lack of a quorum stopped a scheduled morning meeting. A late afternoon attempt failed when a Republican senator objected to a meeting while the Senate was in session, the staff aide said.
Vaira, 42, is a native of McKeesport, Pa., near Pittsburgh but headed the Philadelphia strike force in the early 1970s.
Bell's frustration over the delay in the Civiletti vote was apparent yesterday during an appearance on Capitol Hill.
He told the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve or reject the nomination of Civiletti. "I need to get Mr. Civiletti voted up or down," he said. The Justice Department "is suffering" from the delay, Bell said.