January 24, 2017
Senate Democrats are delaying a key vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions‘s nomination to be President Trump’s attorney general, arguing they want more time to review the pick.
“As we have done for most nominees…I’m asking that the vote for Senator Sessions be held over until next week,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Sessions’s nomination during a Tuesday morning meeting. The committee’s approval is a first step to being scheduled for a full Senate vote.
But under committee rules, any lawmaker can ask that a nomination be held over for a week if it’s on the agenda for the first time.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee, kicked off Tuesday’s hearing by noting that Democrats wanted to delay the nomination, and said, “of course I’ll honor that request” per the committee’s rules.
Democrats were widely expected to delay the vote, though Feinstein declined to comment on Monday evening about her plans.
She said at Tuesday’s committee meeting that she believed lawmakers should take more time to review Sessions’s nomination in the wake of the women’s marches nationwide last Saturday, though she didn’t explain what the march had to do with going forward with Session’s confirmation vote. Quartz estimated that one out of every 100 Americans took part in the protest.
“[Women] have had to fight for everything we have won throughout history. Nothing has been easy,” she said. “Our history in this march and what we’re going to do on the attorney general is really very important.”
Feinstein noted the Judiciary Committee has only had five female senators since the committee started. The committee currently has three female senators, which Feinstein said was the most the committee has ever had at one time.
Democrats face an uphill battle to ultimately block Sessions’s nomination. Grassley noted on Tuesday he expects the Alabama Republican to clear the committee next week.
Sessions will only need 50 votes to clear the Senate floor and Republicans have a 52-seat majority. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also said he will vote for Sessions.
But Feinstein argued on Tuesday that Sessions turned over nearly 190 pages of questions on Sunday that were a response to lawmaker questions and that senators and staff needed more time to review the new material.
“This nomination is a very big deal,” she said. “Our staff needs time to go through these answers and we need time to put them in context.”