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Confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland to be next attorney general begins

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Merrick Garland is set to lead the U.S. Department of Justice, if confirmed. After years of waiting, he will finally get a Senate confirmation hearing. Nikole Killion reports.

Video Transcript

GAYLE KING: After years of waiting, federal Judge Merrick Garland will finally get a Senate confirmation hearing. Republicans, as you may recall, blocked his Supreme Court nomination during the Obama administration. Now he is President Biden's nominee for attorney general. Nikole Killion is on Capitol Hill in the room where the senators will question Garland later this morning. Nikole, good morning to you. Besides the position, how is this different this time?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, it's much different this time around, Gayle. Because unlike five years ago, Merrick Garland will have support from Republicans and is likely to win confirmation. And while he has a reputation as largely being an impartial judge, today in his room he will face a number of questions on highly partisan issues.

In his opening statement, Garland makes clear that he wants to keep his role free from political pressure and outlines his priorities, writing, the attorney general is to serve the rule of law and to ensure equal justice under the law. He will also address the insurrection and say, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Now some of the tougher questions he's expected to face include whether he would consider prosecuting former President Trump for his role in those attacks. Republicans are also expected to ask him about how he might handle the ongoing tax investigation into President Biden's son Hunter, and they plan to push him on the federal probe into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration on COVID and nursing homes.

Now we are also learning this morning that the president's nominee for the Office of Management and Budget could be in jeopardy, that is Neera Tanden. She does not appear to have enough support to get confirmed. Maine Senator Susan Collins said that she won't vote for her, and with Democrat Joe Manchin also a no. That makes her confirmation unlikely. Anthony?

ANTHONY MASON: Nikole, this is not only a big week for several of President Biden's nominees but also for his COVID relief package. How quickly does Congress plan to move on this?

NIKOLE KILLION: Well, very quickly. The House wants to vote on the $1.9 trillion package by the end of this week. Many Republicans are balking at the price tag and say it includes a number of provisions not related to COVID, but Democrats argue that the relief is needed. It includes stimulus checks for Americans of up to $1,400, more unemployment benefits, as well as funding to help reopen schools. Anthony?

ANTHONY MASON: Nikole, thank you.