WASHINGTON: Jeff Sessions was today narrowly confirmed as the Attorney General of President Donald Trump by a bitterly divided US Senate with the Democrats attempting to derail his nomination over his record on civil rights and immigration.
70-year-old Sessions, who was the Senator from Alabama since 1997, was confirmed as America’s powerful law enforcement officer by surviving a near-party-line vote by 52 to 47.
The final vote for Sessions came after 30 hours of debate from Democrats and a stunning fight between liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Republicans which ended in her being forced to sit down after she was accused of impugning Sessions.
Sessions, considered as one of the most conservative lawmakers, resigned as the Alabama Senator later in the night after being confirmed as the 84th Attorney General.
One of the first task on his plate is the win the legal battle for the Trump Administration to get the stay lifted on executive order temporarily blocking all refugee arrivals and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries to the US.
Sessions was one of the first few top Republican Senators to have endorsed Trump in his race to the White House in the Republican primary.
In the past, Sessions has positioned himself as an opponent of H-1B visas, as he believes that this work visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, displaces American workers.
“It was a special night,” Sessions told reporters after his confirmation. “I appreciate the friendship from my colleagues — even those who, many of them who didn’t feel able to vote for me. They were cordial, and so we continue to have good relations and will continue to do the best I can.”
The fight over Sessions nomination spurred some of the most jarring, and at times personal attacks, rooted in allegations that Sessions was a racist — claims the Alabama senator and his supporters have fiercely denied.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic lawmaker from California attacked Sessions and questioned his credentials.
“How will this nominee handle an investigation and prosecution into an unprecedented and major foreign intrusion into the election of the president of the United States? Can he be independent of the White House? I do not believe he can,” said Feinstein.
“We are disappointed that the Senate chose to turn a blind eye to Jeff Sessions’ long record of hostility to civil rights. We intend to be relentless in holding this Justice Department accountable,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“The attorney general has an obligation and duty to protect the civil rights of all Americans. We will not allow the Justice Department to abandon this important work now,” Clarke said.
“Sessions really has to reorient the Justice Department to actually advance the interest of the American people and the rule of law, as opposed to subverting it. And he has to depoliticize the Justice Department, so the American people can have faith in the fair administration of justice again, said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.
“The President picked the best person for the job, and I am pleased to see the Senate confirm him,” Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America (CWA) said.
“Attorney General Sessions has nearly 40 years of experience defending justice, civil rights, and the rule of law during his service as a US attorney, the Alabama Attorney General, and a US Senator,” she said.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that that Democrats would try to skew Sessions’ strong civil rights record and consistent adherence to rule of law in a partisan effort to block their colleague’s nomination shows their only commitment is to blindly obstructing this administration.
“This type of political posturing by Senate Democrats flies in the face of their duty to the American people. His long and lauded career proves Sen. Sessions is exactly the type of leader we need at the Department of Justice, and I am glad he will finally be able to take his place at the helm,” she said.
“Senator Sessions has had a long history of service to the country and The State of Alabama and dedicated his life to public service. Lost in the midst of this contentious confirmation process is that he loves his country and is a brilliant legal mind,” said Alabama-based eminent Indian American Jagdesh Kriplani.–PTI