The Senate voted Wednesday night to confirm Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAttorneys want Supreme Court to determine legality of Whitaker as acting AG Hillicon Valley: Russian-linked hackers may have impersonated US officials | Trump signs DHS cyber bill | Prosecutors inadvertently reveal charges against Assange | Accenture workers protest border enforcement work | App mines crypto for bail bonds McCarthy, other Republicans back Ratcliffe to be next attorney general MORE (R-Ala.) as attorney general, capping a vicious debate that left Democrats and Republicans alike seething at times.

No Republicans went against Sessions in the 52-47 vote. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Mellman: The triumph of partisanship MORE (D-W.Va.) was the only Democrat to back Sessions.

While Republicans broke out into applause after the vote closed, Democrats largely stood silently. A handful of Democratic senators — including Manchin, Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyTrump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Indiana New Members 2019 2020 politics make an immigration deal unlikely in lame-duck MORE (Ind.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Trump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty MORE (N.J.) — went over and shook Sessions's hand after the vote. Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Dem senator expresses concerns over potential Nielsen ouster MORE (D-Del.), who didn't support Sessions, hugged him on the Senate floor. 

The fight over Sessions escalated this week, when Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElection Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority Entrepreneur touts big solutions, endorsements in discussing presidential bid Warren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators MORE (D-Mass.) read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written in 1986 that accused Sessions, a U.S. attorney at the time nominated for a federal judgeship, of using the power of his office to prevent blacks from voting. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report MORE (R-Ky.) objected to Warren’s speech, saying she had impugned another member of the Senate. In a 49-43 vote, the Senate agreed, preventing Warren from speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday. 

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Democrats accused McConnell of sexism for silencing a woman on the floor, and Warren went on a media blitz against the Republican senators and Sessions. 

The tensions were on full display during the debate over Sessions’s nomination.

“We all know our colleague from Alabama. He’s honest," McConnell said. “He’s fair. He’s been a friend to many of us, on both sides of the aisle.” 

Democrats defended their criticism of Sessions’s record on issues of race and civil rights. 

“When we make a big issue of the position of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions on the Voting Rights Act, it's with good cause. It is historically an issue which has haunted the United States since the Civil War,” Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year Trump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform MORE (Ill.) — the No. 2 Senate Democrat — said ahead of the vote. 

Republicans decried the Democratic tactics, arguing they were going to new lows to smear Sessions.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGinsburg attends Medal of Freedom ceremony amid recovery from fall Utah New Members 2019 Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (R-Utah) — a long-serving Senate traditionalist — said Democrats are treating Sessions like a “terrible person,” urging his colleagues on Tuesday night to think of Sessions’s wife.

The fiery words in the last days of the debate over Sessions were somewhat surprising.

While the issue of race had always hung over the debate, Sessions is well-liked personally by many senators. That made the stinging words all the more noteworthy — and raises questions about the ability of lawmakers to work together going forward.   

Sessions will now take over the Justice Department’s defense of President Trump’s controversial order barring people from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States. A former aide to Sessions was instrumental in the order’s writing, and Democrats argued the Alabama senator would not be a firm defender of an independent Justice Department.

“Senator Sessions is not a man apart from this agenda. He is not independent of [Trump's] agenda,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers say California will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief Top Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' Congress needs to wake up to nuclear security threat MORE (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Sessions only needed 50 votes to be confirmed. 

Democrats changed the filibuster rules for presidential nominations when they held the Senate majority, eliminating the need for 60-vote majorities on procedural votes held for Cabinet and some judicial nominations.