WASHINGTON Dec 30 The U.S. Senate on Sunday
approved prominent antitrust attorney William Baer to head the
Justice Department's Antitrust Division 10 months after he was
tapped by President Barack Obama.
The Senate voted 64-26 to approve Baer's nomination, which
ran into problems with some Republicans because of secret
information in an FBI background report.
Baer, an antitrust and white collar criminal defense
attorney with the law firm Arnold & Porter LLP, has worked in
the past for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
"Bill is a highly-skilled and well-respected antitrust lawyer
who understands the importance of promoting competition in order
for consumers to reap the benefits of lower prices and better
quality products and services," Attorney General Eric Holder
said in a statement welcoming the Senate vote.
The Justice Department's Antitrust Division, along with the
FTC, reviews mergers to ensure they comply with antitrust law
and prosecutes price-fixing and other antitrust violations.
Baer first joined FTC as a young attorney just out of law
school and returned later to head its antitrust office.
At his confirmation hearing in July, Baer urged careful
monitoring of powerful companies willing to flex their muscles
to push aside rivals.
Obama nominated Baer in February to fill the post vacated by
Christine Varney in mid-2011. James Wayland most recently served
as acting head of the Antitrust Division, but left in November.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination in
September on a 12-5 vote, with the panel's top Republican, Mike
Lee of Utah, joining the Democratic majority in support.
But Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said
during that meeting he opposed Baer's nomination for reasons
that he could not give in an open session.
Grassley and 25 other Republicans voted against Baer on
Sunday while 14 Republicans voted for him.