The US Senate has postponed till next week a scheduled floor vote on the nomination for Indian-American civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta to serve as Associate Attorney General, the third-highest position in the Department of Justice, after hours of debate on her candidature.
Opposition Republicans have vocally opposed Gupta’s nomination. They pressed her over previous tweets critical of Republicans and accused her of being an “extreme partisan advocate” at a contentious confirmation hearing last month.
However, the 100-member Senate, which is equally divided among the Republicans and the Democrats, adopted the motion to discharge Gupta’s nomination, moving it to the full Senate for consideration, by a vote of 49-34. As many as 16 Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.
Without giving a reason for the postponement of the vote of 46-year-old Gupta’s nomination till next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer exuded confidence that she is all set to become the Associate Attorney General, making her the first person of colour to occupy this position.
”The Senate will soon vote on a motion to discharge the nomination of Vanita Gupta to serve as the next Associate Attorney General. The daughter of immigrants, she would be the first woman of colour and the first civil rights attorney to serve as Associate Attorney General,” Schumer said on the Senate floor soon after the motion of discharge was adopted.
”At a time when so many in our country are calling for action against civil injustices and racial violence, Vanita Gupta is exactly who we need at the Department of Justice. We are moving forward to confirm Gupta to serve as the next Associate Attorney General,” Schumer said.
Despite Republican obstruction, she will be confirmed by this chamber, Schumer said.
The sudden postponement of the confirmation vote comes after hours of debate on Gupta’s nomination. The Senate adjourned on Thursday at 6:43 pm and will next convene on Monday, April 19 at 3 pm.
“This historic nominee is also exceptionally well-qualified. She is a veteran of the Justice Department. She has a proven record of working across political and ideological lines to uphold the rule of law in a nonpartisan fashion. I don’t believe President Biden could have picked a better nominee,” Senator Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor, as the Democrats rallied behind the Indian-American nominee.
Leading the Republican opposition, Senator John Cornyn, alleged on the Senate floor that his objection to Gupta is a direct result of her history of inflammatory public statements, radical policy positions, and a laundry list of misleading statements and flat out lies during her sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee.
”Based on everything we now know about Ms Gupta, I do not have faith in her ability to deliver on this most basic principle. Ms. Gupta is not a career public servant. She is a partisan culture warrior with a radical agenda,” Cornyn said. “During her tenure in jobs outside of government, during which she was a registered lobbyist, Ms. Gupta was quite outspoken about her views on just about every topic you can imagine,” he alleged. Cornyn is also the co-chair of the powerful Senate India Caucus. ”She slandered Supreme Court nominees. She vilified organisations she disagreed with. She even took a crack or two at a number of our Senate colleagues. But the words I find most troubling are those that relate directly to the policies of the Department of Justice itself,” he said.
Senator Ted Cruz alleged that Gupta’s record is that of an extreme partisan ideologue. ”I can assuredly tell the American people Ms. Gupta is not a moderate, is not mainstream, but is rather an extreme political activist that the Democrats want to be the number three lawyer at the Department of Justice,” he said. Senator Dianne Feinstein said that Gupta is an extremely qualified nominee to be Associate Attorney General. ”She previously served as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. In that role, she worked to advance criminal justice reform, oversaw the prosecution of hate crimes and combated employment and housing discrimination.,” she said.
Senator Amy Klobucher said Gupta is just who the country needs as its next Associate Attorney General. ”A true civil rights champion, her leadership is crucial as we fight for equality and justice for all. Change won’t happen on its own so let’s #ConfirmGupta and get to work,” she tweeted.