Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote

The Senate on Wednesday narrowly voted 51-49 to confirm Vanita Gupta, President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit 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.
That portfolio will likely include the federal civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandTexas sues Biden administration over guidance on transgender worker rights Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event Grassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation 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 DurbinDemocrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October 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 CruzPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job O'Rourke prepping run for governor in Texas: report 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 TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default 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.