Senate confirms new head of DOJ civil rights division
© Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE's pick to oversee the Justice Department's civil rights division. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE (D-N.D.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA MORE (D-Fla.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAna Navarro lashes out at Rubio for calling outrage over Trump's 'go back' tweet 'self righteous' US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite 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 SessionsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage House gears up for Mueller testimony Trump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender 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 McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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.