Senate panel advances Sessions' attorney general nomination

Democrats attempted to delay the vote through filibustering

Senate panel advances Sessions' attorney general nomination

Jeff Sessions. Picture by Carolyn Kaster AP/Press Association Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Sen Jeff Sessions to serve as President Trump's attorney general.

The nomination for the Alabama Republican was advanced out of committee in a party-line 11-9 vote.

The vote comes after Democrats delayed Sessions vote using an obscure filibustering rule. Democrats on the committee gave lengthy speeches opposing him, triggering a rule that doesn’t allow the panel to be in session for two hours past the state of the Senate day.

Democrats also spent Tuesday boycotting the confirmation votes for Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, and Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Munchin.

Yesterday, acting attorney general Sally Yates was fired for questioning the legality of President Trump's restrictive immigration policy.

Sen Sessions testified before the Judiciary Committee last month where he argued that the has defended minorities and voting rights throughout his career. He also discussed his positions on immigration policy, torture and a Muslim ban.

He said that he would not back a “complete and total shutdown on all Muslims entering the United States”.

"I believe the president-elect subsequent to that statement made clear he believes the focus should be on individuals coming from countries that have a history of terrorism," he said.

“I hope we can keep people out of the country who wants to kill everybody because of their religion,” he added, while making clear he does not believe most Muslims hold such views.

Education

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labour and Pensions voted to approve Betsy Devos' nomination for Education Secretary.

The committee voted 12-11 to nominate Mrs Devos, a billionaire Republican donor who previously served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.

The vote was rescheduled following a call to review Mrs Devos' financial disclosures.

Mrs Devos is an advocate for alternatives for traditional schooling, championing charter schools - a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.

She is considered to be on President Trump's most controversial cabinet picks, with Democrats citing her lack of experience.

During her confirmation Senate hearing she struggled to answer questions definitively, and drew widespread criticism for her comments on gun control. 

Mrs DeVos cited a school in Wyoming, which she said "probably" had a gun in the school "to protect from potential grizzlies".

Ultimately, Mrs DeVos said she will support the President-elect's own proposals to ban gun-free school zones should he move forward with it.

However, education experts have predicted her imminent confirmation despite the delay in the vote.