WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general in the Trump administration despite fierce Democratic opposition to the Alabama Republican over his record on civil rights and immigration.
The 52-47 nearly party-line vote capped weeks of divisive battles over Sessions, an early supporter of President Donald Trump and one of the Senate’s most conservative lawmakers.
After the vote was announced, Sessions’ Republican colleagues applauded the outcome while barely a handful of Democrats did the same.
In a post-vote valedictory speech, Sessions alluded to the bitter partisanship and wished for more collegiality.
“Denigrating people who disagree with us, I think, is not a healthy trend for our body,” he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Sessions:
Having served with Jeff Sessions for more than twenty years, I know him to be a man of integrity, honesty, and fairness. As Attorney General, Jeff will return the Justice Department to its core mission of enforcing and defending our nation’s laws. In doing so, he will restore the Department’s reputation for even-handedly administering justice for all Americans after years of disturbing mismanagement and politicization. As the longest-serving member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I look forward to working with him in this vital endeavor.
Given that Jeff is one of the most qualified Attorney General nominees in history and has long enjoyed the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I find it extraordinarily disheartening that his confirmation process devolved into such a partisan spectacle. The responsibility for this debacle rests solely with Senate Democrats, who kow-towed to the worst obstructionists instincts of their left-wing base. Their scorched-earth tactics wrongly impugned the integrity of this good man by painting a caricature of their fellow senator that they knew to be completely inconsistent with reality. Going forward, I hope they will reconsider their approach so that we may avoid lasting damage to the confirmation process and the Senate as an institution.
Wednesday’s vote came amid rising tension between Republicans controlling the chamber over delay tactics by minority Democrats that have left fewer of Trump’s picks in place than President Barack Obama had eight years ago.
Democrats no longer have filibuster power over Cabinet picks, however, after changing Senate rules when they controlled the chamber in 2013.
The Associated Press and the Office of Sen. Orrin Hatch contributed to this report.
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