President Obama used a recess appointment Wednesday to name James Cole as deputy attorney general.
The president also recess appointed five other officials, including four ambassadors.
Cole's nomination to the second-ranking post at the Department of Justice had been held over objections from Republicans, who raised concerns over his tenure as an independent monitor of insurance giant AIG between 2005 and 2009. The federal government bailed out the company in 2008.
Republican senators also quibbled with a 2002 report that Cole wrote advocating civilian trials for terror suspects. The GOP has objected to trials in civilian courts for any of the detainees held in Guantánamo Bay as well as others accused of acts of terror.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to confirm Cole by unanimous consent during the lame-duck session, but GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) objected.
While the recess appointment allows Obama to fill a key spot at the Department of Justice, Cole will have to be renominated and confirmed by the end of the next session of Congress. That could be tough, given the larger GOP presence in the next Senate.
Cole is a partner at the firm Bryan Cave LLP and previously served as a Justice Department official between 1979 and 1992. He worked on former President Clinton's transition team in 1992.
Obama also appointed Norm Eisen, the former White House ethics adviser, as the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Eisen co-founded the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and worked on the Obama transition team.
The president also appointed the public printer of the United States and ambassadors to Syria, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
—This post was updated at 5:10 p.m.