Tester expresses strong support for U.S. Attorneys bill

Legislation would reverse provision of USA PATRIOT Act

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana Senator Jon Tester today expressed his strong support of bipartisan legislation that will reverse a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that currently allows interim U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely without Senate confirmation.

A provision was inserted into the USA PATRIOT Act in 2006 which allowed the U.S. Attorney General to appoint an interim U.S. attorney for an indefinite amount of time and without confirmation of the Senate.  The Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007 will restore the Constitutional right of the Senate to advise and consent and return to the pre-2006 process.

"Government works best in the light of day.  Too often provisions are slipped into legislation in back rooms at the eleventh hour," Tester said.  "Like many other parts of the Patriot Act, this goes against common-sense and needs to be remedied.  That's exactly what this legislation will do."

Prior to the provision being placed in the Patriot Act last year, the appointment of an interim U.S. attorney by the Attorney General expired after 120 days. After that appointment expired, district courts could appoint interim U.S. attorneys who served until the President nominated, and the Senate confirmed, a permanent replacement.

"We need to make sure that we have folks that are representing and defending the welfare of the American people, not political parties or special interest groups," Tester said. "It was the will of the Founding Fathers that the Senate play a role in the confirmation of the President's appointments.  That's exactly what we're going to do."

The legislation, S.214, was sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Senator Arlen Specter, R-Penn., and Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.  It passed the Senate today 94-2.