WASHINGTON – A bitterly divided US Senate on Wednesday confirmed Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as the next US attorney general after a strong push by Democrats concerned about his civil rights record.
Sessions, aged 70, who served for two decades in the US Senate of Alabama, was confirmed by a vote 52-47 largely along the party lines after the Democrats raised public opposition to his confirmation.
In a rare move for a recently confirmed cabinet senator, the Sessions spoke after the vote and called on members of Congress to have some “latitude” in their dealings with members of the other party.
“I want to thank those who have found after all a sufficient confidence to confirm me as the next attorney general,” said Sessions.
“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 by the Senate for reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, widow of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who criticized Sessions for her Civil rights file.
Democrats, civil rights advocates and immigration groups have expressed concern about the outcome of controversial debates on race, immigration and criminal justice reform.
The US Senate led by the Republicans also voted Wednesday to advance the proposal of representative Tom Price to head the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Senate is likely to vote to confirm the prize on Friday.
Trump Justice Department
His lawyers defend the ban on Trump’s temporary entry into seven mostly Muslim countries and all refugees, the most controversial executive order of the young administration.
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is due to rule this week on whether a judge in a Seattle District Court quashed the ban last week.
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The civil rights groups are concerned that the civil rights division of the Ministry of Justice is aggressive in the pursuit of abuse at the sessions.
They cite his failure to win confirmation from the Senate to become a federal judge in 1986 because of allegations he made racist remarks, including the testimony he had called an African American accuser “boy”, a Allegation Sessions refused.
Sessions said at its hearing in 1986 that groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color and the American Civil Liberties Union could be considered “non-American”. He also acknowledged that he had characterized the 1965 Voting Rights Act as “an intrusive law”.
The Center for Left Reflection of the Center for American Progress asked whether Sessions would be an independent legal voice to challenge Trump’s agenda.
“Trump showed little respect for the courts or the constitutional limits of his power, and there is no reason to think that Attorney General Sessions will act as an independent check on the president,” said Michele Jawando, vice president For legal progress at the Think Tank
Sessions has pushed to curb immigration to the United States, including by those who legally enter the work permits.
He also voted against many measures to reduce the sentences imposed on prisoners. The Republican National Committee rejected what he called “obstruction” by the Democrats.
“Democrats would try to circumvent the solid civil rights record of the Sessions and constant adherence to the rule of law in a partisan effort to block the appointment of their colleague shows that their only commitment is to blindly obstruct this administration, Said Ronna McDaniel, ‘Confirmation.