The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE's pick to oversee the Justice Department's civil rights division.
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 HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE (D-N.D.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Two trajectories to Mars by the 2030s MORE (D-Fla.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors 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 SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold 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 McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 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.