Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to become U.S. attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. (Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – A bitterly divided U.S. Senate confirmed Republican Senator Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as the next attorney general of the United States after strong pushback from Democrats concerned about his record on civil rights.
Sessions, 70, who has served two decades in the Senate from Alabama, was confirmed by a 52-47 vote largely along party lines after Democrats raised public opposition to his confirmation.
In a rare move for a senator recently confirmed to a Cabinet position, Sessions took to the floor of the chamber after the vote and called for members of Congress to have some “latitude” in their relationships with members of the other party.
“I want to thank those who after it all found sufficient confidence to confirm me as the next attorney general,” Sessions said.
“Denigrating people who disagree with us, I think, is not a healthy trend for our body,” he said, referring to the Senate.
On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the political left, was silenced in the Senate for reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that criticised Sessions for his civil rights record.
Democrats, civil rights and immigration groups have voiced alarm about Sessions’ record of controversial positions on race, immigration and criminal justice reform.
With Sessions as attorney general, eight of President Donald Trump’s 22 Cabinet nominees have been confirmed.
The Republican-led Senate also voted on Wednesday to advance Representative Tom Price’s nomination to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Senate is likely to vote to confirm Price on Friday. (Reuters)