US Senate votes to confirm Garland as attorney general
Washington [US]: The US Senate on Wednesday (local time) confirmed Merrick Garland to be President Joe Biden's attorney general. The US upper chamber voted 70-30 on Garland's nomination to lead the Justice Department, easily topping the 50 votes needed.
According to The Hill, the vote comes just days before the five-year anniversary of when then-President Obama nominated Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans, who then controlled the Senate, refused to give Garland a hearing or a vote.
This time around, Garland, who has served on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997, won support from most of the caucus, including the men at the centre of the 2016 standoff: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Grassley.
"I'm voting to confirm Judge Garland because of his long reputation as a straight shooter and a legal expert. His left-of-center perspective has been within the legal mainstream. Let's hope our incoming attorney general applies that no-nonsense approach to the serious challenges facing the Department of Justice [DOJ] and our nation," McConnell said ahead of Wednesday's vote, as quoted by The Hill.
The news outlet further reported that the Biden nominee's path to confirmation wasn't without headaches after Senator Tom Cotton announced that he had placed a hold on the nomination, forcing Democrats to eat up days of floor time.
But with Democrats holding 50 seats and GOP support from many of Cotton's colleagues, Garland was widely expected to be confirmed.
Garland is taking over a Justice Department battered by being at the center of recent political scandals, with senators on both sides concerned it has become politicized. He pledged to be independent of Biden.
"I am the United States's lawyer. I will do everything in my power ... to fend off any effort by anyone to make prosecutions or investigations partisan or political in any way," Garland said during the hearing.
According to The Hill, Garland said both criminal justice reform and voting rights would be top priorities of his.
"I regard my responsibilities with respect to the Civil Rights Division as at the top of my agenda priorities lists. So you have my commitment to do everything I can in this area," Garland said during his confirmation hearing. (ANI)