In 93-1 vote, Senate confirms FBI nominee

The Senate voted 93-1 Monday to confirm James Comey as head of the FBI. 

The only senator to vote against Comey was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has expressed concerns about the FBI's domestic drone program.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) voted present.

Comey, who worked in the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush, will succeed outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller. 

The new director is perhaps best known for his opposition to the Bush warrantless wiretapping program. He also argued against the use of water boarding as an interrogation method.

Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was “disappointed” that he had to file a cloture motion on Comey’s nomination. 

But by the end of Monday, Republicans had agreed to hold the up-or-down vote on his nomination rather than a procedural vote to end debate.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said this would have been the first FBI director nominee “to be filibustered in Senate history.”

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“Republicans shouldn’t let politics get in the way of confirming the next director of the FBI,” Leahy said. “I believe James Comey is the man to lead the FBI.”

Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he would support Comey’s nomination, but that this was “a serious decision” for the chamber. Grassley said that Congress’s constitutional right to “advise and consent” to executive nominees was not the same as “rubber stamping.”

Leahy vowed to push Comey, as FBI director, to limit domestic surveillance programs under the Patriot Act, which have come under recent criticism when it was leaked that the government obtained phone records of many U.S. citizens.

“Just because the federal government can collect huge amounts of data, doesn’t mean they should be,” Leahy said.