The Senate confirmed Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General on Wednesday in a narrow 51-49 vote after Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined with Democrats in support of President Joe Biden’s Justice Department nominee.
Vice President Kamala Harris was on hand for a procedural vote Wednesday morning in case she was needed for a possible 50-50 tie, but her vote wasn’t necessary after Murkowski, a moderate Republican from Alaska, broke with her Republican colleagues to back Gupta.
With her confirmation, Gupta will be the first woman of color to be Associate Attorney General, joining Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco as the No. 3 Justice Department official.
Republicans were nearly entirely unified in their opposition to Gupta, who led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under the Obama administration. They have argued Gupta was a “radical” nominee, and have accused her of changing her positions on issues like drug legalization and police funding.
During her hearing, Vanita Gupta said she regretted her “harsh rhetoric,” pledged to be “strictly nonpartisan” & said she wouldn’t engage in this rhetoric going forward.
She’s since liked a tweet calling @NikkiHaley a snake.
Gupta’s talk is cheap. She is a partisan ideologue. pic.twitter.com/huO0noAj63
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 21, 2021
"Vanita Gupta is not a partisan, she's a patriot."
MUST-WATCH: Hearing the baseless claims Republicans are spreading in this chamber, @SenBooker ran to the Senate floor in defense of Vanita Gupta. Hear his passionate remarks as @SenateDems fights to #ConfirmGupta #WeHaveHerBack pic.twitter.com/eMJd4DpEB1
— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) April 21, 2021
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday charged that Gupta has “a record of astoundingly radical positions.” But Democrats have accused Republicans and outside conservative groups of running a smear campaign to try to block Gupta’s nomination, pointing to her lengthy record of endorsements from law enforcement groups to be the No. 3 official at the Justice Department.
Senator Murkowski says she will be supporting the final confirmation of Vanita Gupta pic.twitter.com/gf5NiiwTS7See Also
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 21, 2021
Murkowski explained her support for Gupta on the Senate floor, saying she was “troubled” by some of Gupta’s statements but decided to back her confirmation following a lengthy conversation with the nominee.
“I asked her point-blank, ‘Why do you want this? Is this worth it?’ Because this has clearly been very hard on her as a nominee,” Murkowski said. “And she paused and reflected a moment, and just spoke to how she feels called to serve in a very personal way that I thought was impactful.”
“I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated throughout her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice,” Murkowski said.
BREAKING: The Senate just confirmed Vanita Gupta. She will now be the first woman of color and first civil rights lawyer in U.S. history to serve as associate attorney general at the Department of Justice.
An important and historic moment for our country. Remember this day. pic.twitter.com/BbZlXFmSE6
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) April 21, 2021