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) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' 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 WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 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 PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived 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 Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake 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. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyRegulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment Oil spill tax on oil companies reinstated as part of budget deal 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 CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week 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.