DEA head confirmed after Dem senator drops hold

The Senate confirmed Michele Leonhart’s nomination to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration Wednesday night, giving the agency an official leader for the first time in more than three years.

Leonhart’s confirmation was in doubt as early as Wednesday morning until Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) allowed her nomination to go through. Kohl, who heads the Senate’s Aging Committee, released a block on her nomination after receiving assurances from Attorney General Eric Holder that the DEA will work with Congress to ease restrictions on administering painkillers to nursing home patients in emergency situations.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Leonhart before it adjourned for the rest of the year. Leonhart, who had been serving as the acting administrator, was first nominated to the agency’s top spot by President George W. Bush in 2008, but the Senate failed to confirm her before the 110th Congress adjourned.

Obama upset marijuana advocates by renominating her in January. They say Leonhart has taken too tough a stance against states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.