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Spy chief confirmation hearing set for next Tuesday

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Congressional confirmation hearings will start next Tuesday for Obama's DNI nominee
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein had been holding up the hearings until passage of an intelligence bill
  • Feinstein stopped blocking the hearings because the acting DNI chief will step down in August
  • The intelligence bill is still being blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next Tuesday for Gen. James Clapper, President Barack Obama's nominee for director of National Intelligence, according to committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

Feinstein previously said she would not hold confirmation hearings for Clapper -- currently the Defense Department's chief intelligence officer -- to become the next national intelligence chief until passage of a pending intelligence authorization bill. The measure, which would strengthen the DNI position, has been held up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California. Pelosi is seeking legal changes to ensure expanded congressional notification of certain intelligence actions.

An aide to Feinstein aide said the senator was forced to reverse her position because of the pending Senate August recess and the fact that David Gompert, the acting national intelligence director, plans to resign next month whether or not Clapper has been confirmed.

The aide said Feinstein had expected the intelligence bill to be approved by now. Feinstein, the aide asserted, believes the DNI is a "vital position" and the nation "can't afford" to go any longer without a replacement.

Clapper was nominated by Obama on June 5 to replace Dennis Blair.

CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this report