Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage MORE (D-Wash.) is signaling she'll likely oppose Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsChris Christie compares Mueller investigation to 'Bridgegate' probe Oakland mayor fires back at Trump: ‘It’s my duty to protect my residents’ McCabe lawyer fires back at Trump: 'You need to stop lying’ MORE's attorney general nomination next year. 

The Washington senator — who will be the No. 3 Senate Democrat in 2017 — said the Senate rejected Sessions three decades ago because of civil rights and racism allegations and "those same concerns linger."

"I’ve seen him vote against the Violence Against Women Act, the Voting Rights Act, and hate crimes legislation," Murray said in a Facebook post. "And for these reasons and more, I have major concerns with his nomination to this position and am not sure what I could hear in this confirmation process that would allow me to support it." 

Sessions has denied the accusations that he called an African-American assistant U.S. attorney “boy” or that he called the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union “un-American.” He also supported the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObama-linked group charts path for midterm elections Senators should be unanimous in their support of Haspel for CIA chief Warren donates 5K to anti-gerrymandering and state legislature campaigns MORE's nomination to be the first African-American attorney general.  

Echoing larger concerns from Democrats, Murray added on Monday that the attorney general must be able be willing to defend the rights of all Americans equally. 

"We need to do everything we can to fight for an Attorney General who is truly committed to standing up for and protecting the rights of everyone in this country," she said. "Given Senator Sessions’s record, it is difficult to see how he could pass this most basic, most essential, test.

Murray also pointed to Sessions's immigration stances as a cause for concern, questioning if he would use his post to "pursue his anti-immigration agenda." 

Sessions is well-liked among his Senate colleagues. Republicans signaled last week that they wanted to quickly move his nomination through the upper chamber next year.  

Democrats are pledging to give Sessions a thorough grilling, though they face an uphill battle to stop his nomination. 

Sessions will only need support from a simple majority of senators to clear the upper chamber. Republicans are expected to have 52 seats next year, and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump to hold Nashville rally amid efforts to boost GOP Senate hopeful Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Overnight Finance: House rejects farm bill in conservative revolt | NAFTA deal remains elusive as talks drag on | Dodd-Frank rollback set for House vote MORE (D-W.Va.) has said he will support Sessions. 

Five former attorneys general and five former deputy attorneys general, all of whom worked for Republican administrations, backed Sessions’s nomination in a letter Monday to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCongress — when considering women’s health, don’t forget about lung cancer Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Man who coined 'lock her up' chant to lead EPA's Pacific Southwest office MORE (D-Calif.), the two top members of the Judiciary Committee next year.