Posted Feb 09, 2017 08:20 am CST
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. attorney general on Wednesday evening on a 52-47 vote.
The only Democrat who voted for the Alabama Republican was Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Washington Post reports.
The New York Times calls the Senate confirmation process for Sessions “ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years.”
During hearings on Tuesday, a Republican vote stopped Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from speaking further during debate because she had read from a letter opposing Sessions’ 1986 judicial nomination, written by the late Coretta Scott King. The Republicans cited a Senate rule that bars senators from impugning the motives and the conduct of a peer, according to this prior New York Times story.
The letter had claimed that, when Sessions was the Atlanta U.S. attorney, he used the power of his office to chill the right to vote by black citizens.
Sessions had withdrawn his nomination for the federal judgeship after criticism of his civil rights record. During debate on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said there had been a “twisting” of Sessions’ record. “Everybody in this body knows Senator Sessions well, knows that he is a man of integrity, a man of principle,” Sullivan said.
Sessions served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama beginning in 1981 and was elected Alabama attorney general in 1995. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Sessions defended his civil rights record during his confirmation hearing. “I abhor the Klan and its hateful ideology,” Sessions said. “I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters.”
Sessions also said during his hearing that he would not be a “rubber stamp” for the president.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced Thursday morning that Sessions’ Senate replacement would be the state’s Attorney General Luther Strange, reports AL.com. Strange, who is also a Republican, will hold the seat until elections are held in 2018. Strange had announced in December that it was his intention to seek Sessions’ seat in 2018. He was first elected to the position of attorney general in 2010.
Updated at 8:53 a.m. to add information about Luther Strange, Sessions’ replacement.
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