Senate Confirms Biden Nominee

( The U.S. Senate confirmed another of President Joe Biden’s nominees Wednesday, but only by a slim margin that required a Republican to jump ship.

Vanita Gupta was confirmed as Biden’s nominee to serve as the number three position at the Department of Justice. The nomination hearing was at time contentious, with many believing that Vice President Kamala Harris would have to break a 50-50 tie.

The tie-breaking vote wasn’t needed, however, after Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski crossed the aisle to vote in favor of Gupta’s confirmation.

In explaining her vote, Murkowski said:

“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.”

Gupta is an associate attorney general, and will now oversee the department’s efforts on law enforcement issues as well as civil litigation.

Part of her likely responsibilities will be the investigation into federal civil rights that will revolve around the Minneapolis Police Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that investigation on Wednesday of this week, just one day after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three murder charges against him for his role in the death of George Floyd last spring.

Gupta’s confirmation hearing was at times quite contentious. Many Republicans in the Senate fought hard against her nomination, saying she was very anti-police and radical.

Republican Ted Cruz from Texas said:

“Your record is one of extreme partisan advocacy. 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 number three lawyer at the Department of Justice in charge of the impartial and fair administration of justice.”

In the past, Gupta made her opposition to the GOP’s efforts to push through former President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. At her confirmation hearing, she apologized for pushing that rhetoric, but ultimately rejected the accusations that she was in favor of plans to defund police departments.

In her hearing with the Judiciary Committee, Gupta said:

“I regret the harsh rhetoric I have used at times in the last several years. 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. 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 served as the head of the civil rights division of the DOJ under former President Barack Obama. In that role, she helped direct an investigation into police activities in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 by a white police officer.

Democrats and Garland believe that experience will be key for Gupta in her new role and with her new responsibilities.