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1 Feb, 2017 16:21

Trump's attorney-general pick Sessions clears committee hurdle, faces Senate vote

Trump's attorney-general pick Sessions clears committee hurdle, faces Senate vote

Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama nominated to head President Donald Trump's Department of Justice, was cleared for a Senate confirmation vote by the Judiciary Committee after a long and contentious debate.

The final vote was 11 in favor and 9 opposed, along party lines.

The vote was originally planned for Tuesday, but the committee meeting dragged on for hours, as one Democrat after another argued that Sessions was a bigot who suppressed African-American votes as Alabama’s attorney general and played a key role in engineering President Trump’s executive actions on immigration, refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had to adjourn the meeting at 2pm and schedule a continuation from Wednesday morning, with two more Democratic senators claiming 20 minutes each to voice their opposition.

Democrats on the Finance Committee tried a different strategy to block the vote on Steven Mnuchin for Treasury and Tom Price for Health and Human services, by not showing up for the scheduled vote on Tuesday. In response the Republican majority suspended the rule that required at least one minority member to be present and approved both nominees 14-0 on Wednesday morning.

As of January 31, the Senate has only approved five Trump administration officials: secretaries of defense, homeland security and transportation, the CIA chief, and the ambassador to the UN. The floor vote on the secretary of state is scheduled for Wednesday, while seven more nominees are in line for the floor vote.