Senate confirms new head of DOJ civil rights division
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The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report 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 HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE (D-N.D.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMcCaskill: 'Too many embarrassing uncles' in the Senate Bill Nelson uses farewell address to remind colleagues ‘no one person is above the law’ Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee MORE (D-Fla.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioKevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying 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 SessionsInterior chief Zinke to leave administration Trump, Christie met to discuss chief of staff job: report Chief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation 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 McConnellTrump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law Federal judge in Texas strikes down ObamaCare Ocasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached 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.