Senate Dems vote to advance nomination of drone memo author
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The Senate voted 52-43 Wednesday to end debate and advance the controversial nomination of David Barron, who authored memos justifying drone strikes on U.S. citizens, to serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Barron's legal memos for the White House had sparked concerns from Democrats opposed to President Obama's drone policies. Last week, the administration held a meeting with Senate Democrats to reassure them and shore-up support.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuCNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' Trump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram MORE (D-La.), voted with Republicans. Still only a simple majority was needed to advance the nominee. Landrieu faces a tough reelection race in November.

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On Tuesday, the administration announced that it would make the memos authored by Barron public, a move which convinced Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Finance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (D-Ore.) to support the nominee. Despite being a critic of the U.S. drone program, Wyden said the White House release of documents was a show of good faith.

But Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program MORE (R-Ky.) said that wasn’t good enough for him, saying he was disturbed by the content of the memos.

“I believe it’s about what the memos themselves say,” Paul said ahead of the vote. “I rise in opposition of the killing of American citizens without trial. Any nominee who rubber stamps and grants that power to the president is not worthy of being one step away from the Supreme Court.”

Paul has threatened to filibuster Barron’s nomination but Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the nominee last week, meaning Paul can’t stop the vote since the Senate rule change which allows Democrats to end debate with a simple majority instead of 60 votes. 

“I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied,” Paul said. “There is no valid legal precedent to justify the killing of an American citizen not engaged in combat.”

Ahead of the vote, Paul tried to get unanimous consent to delay Senate consideration of Barron’s nomination until the public had time to review the promised memos, but Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack MORE (D-Mass.) objected.

The final confirmation vote is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Paul is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. Another possible candidate, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas) also spoke out in opposition to Barron’s nomination, calling him an “unabashed judicial activist” who would politicize the courts.

The Senate also confirmed the following nominees by voice-vote:

- Elisebeth Collins Cook to be a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

- Deirdre Daly to be U.S. Attorney for Connecticut.

- James Frazer Green to be U.S. Attorney for the middle district of Louisiana.

- Damon Martinez to be U.S. Attorney for New Mexico.