With the help of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to limit debate on Sessions, moving him one step closer to final confirmation.
Prior to the procedural vote, Sessions drew fire from many of his Senate colleagues. Led by New York-Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democrats questioned Sessions commitment to civil rights and whether he will act independently of Trump as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
“That’s going to be a real test in this administration because there seems to little regard for an independent judiciary — even for the Constitution itself,” said Schumer. “He would be wrong at any time because of his record on immigration, civil rights and voting rights, but particularly wrong now because we need someone who has some degree of independence from the President.”
Meanwhile, Sessions’ GOP colleagues, stood by his side defending his record and integrity.
“We all know Sen. Sessions to be a man of his word. We know he’s a man who believes in the rule of law. We know him as someone who is willing to work with anyone, regardless of party — like when he teamed up on legislation with Democratic colleagues like Sen. (Dick) Durbin and … our late colleague, Ted Kennedy,” said Kentucky-Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor. “It’s been unfortunate to hear the attacks that some on the far left have directed at our friend over the past few weeks.”
Sessions cleared the Judiciary Committee on a party-line, 11-9 vote last Wednesday.
Last week Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced six finalists to replace Sessions pending his confirmation. They are: Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange; Alabama 4th District U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt; Anniston-Republican, state Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh; Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard; Jasper-Republican state Rep. Connie Rowe; Montgomery-Republican, co-chairman of Trump’s Alabama campaign and former state Rep. Perry Hooper.
A final vote to confirm Sessions is expected Wednesday.