WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is offering praise for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, is resigning after six years, but will remain in office until a new attorney general is confirmed.

Speaking at the White House, the president called Holder "the people's lawyer" and credited him with driving down both the crime and incarceration rates, which hadn't declined together in more than 40 years.

During his six years Holder has aggressively enforced the Voting Rights Act and addressed drug-sentencing guidelines that led to disparities between white and black convicts. He oversaw the decision to prosecute terror suspects in U.S. civilian courts instead of at Guantanamo Bay.

He was also a lightning rod for conservative critics. Senate Republicans have already signaled they are preparing for a confirmation fight on Holder's replacement.