Senate confirms Jeff Sessions for attorney general
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.
Since Trump tapped Sessions, Democrats have laced into the lawmaker, casting him as too cozy with Trump and too harsh on immigrants. They asserted he wouldn't do enough to protect voting rights of minorities, protections for gays and the legal right of women to obtain an abortion. They fear immigrants in the country illegally won't receive due process with Sessions as the top law enforcement officer.
"His record raises doubts about whether he can be a champion for those who need this office most and it also raises doubts about whether he can curb unlawful overreach" by Trump, said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Republicans say Sessions has demonstrated over a long career in public service — and two decades in the Senate — that he possesses integrity and honesty and is committed to justice.
"He's honest. He's fair. He's been a friend to many of us, on both sides of the aisle," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "It's been tough to watch all this good man has been put through in recent weeks. This is a well-qualified colleague with a deep reverence for the law. He believes strongly in the equal application of it to everyone."
Sessions won unanimous backing from Senate Republicans but picked up the support of just one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Photo: Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., leaves his office on Capitol Hill in Washington early Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)