Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote

The Senate on Wednesday narrowly voted 51-49 to confirm Vanita Gupta, President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE's nominee for the No. 3 position at the Department of Justice (DOJ), despite stiff opposition from Republicans who had criticized her civil rights advocacy during the Trump administration.
As associate attorney general, Gupta will oversee the DOJ's efforts on civil litigation and law enforcement issues.
That portfolio will likely include the federal civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Watch live: Garland testifies before Senate panel on domestic extremism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE announced Wednesday, one day after a jury convicted former officer Derek Chauvin on murder charges in the death of George Floyd.
Gupta had served under former President Obama as the head of the DOJ's civil rights division, where she directed a similar investigation into police in Ferguson, Mo., following the 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a white officer.
During her confirmation process, Gupta has garnered widespread support from law enforcement organizations and conservative figures such as Grover Norquist. Democrats and civil rights activists have thrown their weight behind her nomination, applauding her commitment to the principles of equal justice.
"Is there a lesson from Minnesota that we should bring to the floor of the Senate?" Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden's internal polling touts public support for immigration reform The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (D-Ill.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a floor speech before the vote. "It's the fact that we need people like her, who can communicate effectively with law enforcement and civil rights groups and resolve our differences, more at this moment in history than ever.
Senate Republicans had put up stiff opposition to her nomination, portraying her as an anti-police radical.
"Your record is one of extreme partisan advocacy," Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzYang: Those who thought tweet in support of Israel was 'overly simplistic' are correct CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump MORE (R-Texas) said at Gupta's confirmation hearing last month. "Your record is an ideologue. There's a role in our democratic and political process for ideologues, people who are extreme, radical advocates. That role, I believe, is not being the No. 3 lawyer at the Department of Justice in charge of the impartial and fair administration of justice."
After leaving the Justice Department at the end of the Obama administration, Gupta spent the past four years as the president and CEO of the nonprofit Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
She was an outspoken critic of former President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE and the Senate GOP's efforts to push through his judicial nominees at a near record-setting pace. During her confirmation hearing last month, she apologized for her rhetoric but rejected Republicans' accusations that she wants to defund the police.
"I regret the harsh rhetoric I have used at times in the last several years," she told the Judiciary Committee. "I think perhaps the rhetoric has gotten harsh over the past several years and I have fallen prey to it.

"I wish I could take it back," she continued. "I can't, but what I can commit to you and ask that you do is look at my lifelong record. I have, from early on in my career, sought out people who don't always think like me, people who have very different views, because I believe in the importance of consensus to get things done."
Gupta eked through the confirmation vote with the help of Murkowski, who said on the floor before the vote that she had been impressed by Gupta's record despite finding some of her comments concerning.
"I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated through her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice," Murkowski said.