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 ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats 'Just say no' just won't work for Senate Republicans MORE (D-W.Va.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth 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.


On Tuesday, the administration announced that it would make the memos authored by Barron public, a move which convinced Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion 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 PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Fauci on Tucker Carlson vaccine comments: 'Typical crazy conspiracy theory' 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 ReidThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison White House races clock to beat GOP attacks 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyDemocratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Progressives put Democrats on defense 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 CruzUS has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated Cruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol 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.