The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed William Barr as the 85th Attorney General by a 54 to 45 vote. Barr replaces Matthew Whitaker who was named acting Attorney General after President Donald first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, resigned.
Nominated by President Donald Trump in December, Barr had previously served as Attorney General under the late President George H.W. Bush from 1991-1993. Prior to his nomination Barr worked in private practice for the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
The vote was mostly along partisan lines with a few exceptions.
U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Alabama), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) voted with Republicans to confirm Barr. U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) joined with Democrats voting no. . Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) did not vote.
Paul announced his inability to support Barr on Tuesday.
“I am unable to support Bill Barr’s nomination to be the next Attorney General. While I support President Trump and have supported most of his nominees, I have too many concerns about the record and views of this nominee. Bill Barr was a leading proponent of warrantless surveillance, and his overall record on the Fourth Amendment is troubling to me. I remain concerned that Bill Barr does not agree with our bipartisan efforts to reform our criminal justice system. Finally, Bill Barr has a troubling record on the Second Amendment. For these reasons, I voted today against his nomination for Attorney General,” he said in a released statement.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) commented on Barr’s confirmation:
“Mr. Barr is a highly accomplished and an experienced public servant with an outstanding record. He has already demonstrated that he is fully capable of leading the Department of Justice and I trust he will do so again. At his confirmation hearing, he assured this senator that he will faithfully carry out the law and the Constitution. Importantly, he pledged to enforce my updates to the False Claims Act, which has saved taxpayers nearly $60 billion over the last several decades. He also promised to fully implement the First Step Act, which Congress overwhelmingly passed last year to bring about the most significant criminal justice reforms in a generation,” Grassley said in a released nt.
“Like every federal agency, the Justice Department can always use a healthy dose of Congressional oversight, and I will continue working to strengthen DOJ through improved transparency, accountability cooperation with Congress. I look forward to working with Mr. Barr in this endeavor,” Grassley added.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) tweeted after the confirmation vote:
“He is a steady hand at a time of turmoil and he will bring much needed reform to the Department of Justice. I look forward to working with Mr. Barr on the many issues facing the men and women of the Department of Justice and our nation as a whole,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said during floor remarks prior to the final confirmation vote.
All of the Democratic U.S. Senators running for President voted against Barr’s confirmation.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) did not believe Barr would protect the Russia investigation.
Barr during his confirmation, however, said it was “vitally important” for the Mueller investigation to be completed without interference.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) expressed concern about his view of executive power:
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) complained about his position on Obamacare and abortion.
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) expressed doubts about Barr’s record on civil rights.
“After two years of relentless attacks on Americans’ civil rights by the President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we need an Attorney General who will work to uphold the values that are most in danger,” Booker said. “We need an Attorney General who will work to advance the principle of equal justice under the law. But Mr. Barr was an architect of mass incarceration and has made it clear he lacks an understanding of the role of implicit bias in our criminal justice system and the disproportionate impact on communities of color. Given his record, I am especially concerned about how he will implement the criminal justice reforms contained in the First Step Act, which Congress just overwhelmingly passed into law.”
“At a time when our shared principles of equal protection and civil rights for all are under assault, we need an Attorney General who will rise to the challenge of defending them. I voted against Mr. Barr’s nomination because I have little confidence in his willingness and ability to meet this challenge,” he added.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) blasted Senate Democrats attempts to stop Barr’s confirmation.
“It was truly sad to see Senate Democrats yet again try to derail a well-qualified nominee to serve our country because they are terrified of their radical base,” Cruz said. “William Barr previously served as a competent and capable Attorney General, and I am confident that when confirmed he will once again ably serve our nation.”