HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Senate Confirms New DEA Chief
Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2001
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Associated Press
Author: Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press Writer

SENATE CONFIRMS NEW DEA CHIEF

GOP Rep. Asa Hutchinson, one of the House prosecutors in former President 
Clinton's impeachment trial, won Senate confirmation Wednesday to lead the 
Drug Enforcement Administration. "I am thrilled that the Senate had given 
its consent to my nomination," Hutchinson, R-Ark., said after the 98-1 
voice vote by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"It is difficult to leave Congress, but I am excited to have the 
opportunity to serve Arkansas and the country by beginning our great 
national crusade against illegal drugs," said Hutchinson, 50. Said his 
brother, Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark.: "This is a moment of great pride for me."

The lone dissenting vote came from Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who said he 
disagreed with Hutchinson's support of "the escalation of the drug war in 
Colombia."

"He also evidenced no understanding of the effect on our criminal justice 
and our penal system of draconian fixed sentencing for possession of small 
amount of drugs," Dayton continued. "And he rejected outright the 
possibility of decriminalization of marijuana for strictly medicinal 
purposes." Not voting was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Clinton was impeached by the House on two articles of perjury and 
obstruction of justice. The Senate voted to acquit the president in 
February 1990.

Asa Hutchinson did not say when he would resign, saying he had to 
coordinate the timing with the White House. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 
will set dates for the special election to determine who will occupy 
Hutchinson's seat after his resignation. Hutchinson, a former federal 
prosecutor, is serving his third term from a heavily Republican district in 
northwest Arkansas.

As a U.S. attorney for western Arkansas in the 1980s, he prosecuted and won 
a guilty plea from Roger Clinton, the former president's half brother, on a 
drug charge.

At his confirmation hearing, Hutchinson told the Senate Judiciary Committee 
that the battle against drug use was "a noble purpose worthy of a great 
crusade."

"I have every confidence he will do a terrific job," said Sen. Orrin Hatch 
of Utah, the top Republican on the committee.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was one of Clinton's 
primary defenders during the Senate impeachment trial, but said he did not 
hold a grudge against Hutchinson.

"I have a great deal of respect of him," Leahy said. "Every time I dealt 
with him, he was absolutely truthful with me. He never broke his word to 
me, he never broke a commitment to me."

In the House, Hutchinson is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and 
the House Speaker's Task Force for a Drug Free America. A former chairman 
of the Arkansas Republican Party, Hutchinson has a law degree from the 
University of Arkansas.

The DEA is part of the Justice Department, and is at the forefront of U.S. 
drug interdiction efforts.
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