Senate panel votes to advance Garland’s nomination to be AG

Politics
Merrick Garland

Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s pick to be attorney general, answers questions from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., as he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general.

The committee voted 15 to seven in favor of Garland’s nomination at a meeting on Monday afternoon.

Garland, a federal appeals court judge who was snubbed by Republicans for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2016, is among Biden’s most widely supported nominees. The committee’s vote puts him on track for a quick confirmation, potentially within days.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., praised Garland as a highly qualified and honorable jurist who is uniquely qualified to lead the Justice Department after a tumultuous four years under former President Donald Trump.

The committee’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said he also intends to support Garland’s nomination. He said he’s “an honorable man” but that he “has his work cut out for him.”

At his confirmation hearing last week, Garland vowed to prioritize combating extremist violence with an initial focus on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department would remain politically independent on his watch.

Garland will inherit a Justice Department that endured a turbulent era under Trump — rife with political drama and controversial decisions — and that faced abundant criticism from Democrats over what they saw as the politicizing of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.

Garland would confront immediate challenges if confirmed, including an ongoing criminal tax investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter, as well as calls from many Democrats to pursue inquiries into Trump.

A special counsel investigation into the origins of the Russia probe also remains open, which would leave Garland to decide how to handle it and what to make public.

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