Senate confirms new head of DOJ civil rights division
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The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's pick to oversee the Justice Department's civil rights division. 

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Senators voted 50-47 along party lines to confirm Eric Dreiband, whose nomination had been in limbo for more than a year. 

Democrats and a coalition of progressive and civil rights groups have long opposed Dreiband. But with Republicans holding a 51-49 majority Democrats don't have the ability to block Trump's nominees without flipping GOP senators. 

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (D-N.D.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B MORE (D-Fla.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Meghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE (R-Fla.) missed Thursday's vote. 

“Eric has distinguished himself as an outstanding lawyer and a committed public servant,” Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBeto O'Rourke on impeachment: 'There is enough there to proceed' Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure MORE said in a statement after the vote. “His previous experience in protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals will enable him to effectively lead the Civil Rights Division.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate MORE (R-Ky.) added from the Senate floor that Dreiband was "well prepared to serve." 

"Those who have worked with Mr. Dreiband emphasize his strong commitment to protecting all Americans’ civil rights," McConnell said. 

Center for American Progress's Winnie Stachelberg said Dreiband's nomination is the latest example of the Trump administration's "contempt" for civil rights. 

"Dreiband has spent the bulk of his career defending corporations accused of discrimination and does not have the requisite experience to lead the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws. ... And he has no experience protecting voting rights, dealing with hate crimes, or holding police accountable for misconduct, areas critical to ensuring justice for all," Stachelberg added. 

Dreiband, a former counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, testified against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2008, and represented the University of North Carolina in its defense of a law banning transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.