President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees to lead the departments of Justice and Homeland Security will appear before Senate committees Tuesday to kick off what is likely to be a contentious confirmation process.
Late Monday, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced that he would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee against the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. Booker will be joined by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La the head of the Congressional Black Caucus as part of an effort by Democrats to portray Sessions as out of the mainstream on civil rights legislation.
Booker is believed to be the first sitting Senator to testify in a confirmation hearing against another sitting senator nominated for a Cabinet position. “I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said in a statement. “But the immense powers of the Attorney General combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience. “The Attorney General is responsible for ensuring the fair administration of justice, and based on his record, I lack confidence that Senator Sessions can honor this duty,” the senator added.
Democrats don’t have the power to block the nomination of either Sessions or retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to head DHS, since Republicans control the Senate and only need a simple majority to confirm both men. However, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to try and paint Sessions as being out of the mainstream on issues critical to the party’s core voters Hispanics, African Americans and women ahead of the 2018 election cycle. Sessions has been a leading advocate not only for cracking down on illegal immigration, but also for slowing all legal immigration, increasing mass deportations and giving more scrutiny to those entering the United States. He vehemently opposed the bipartisan immigration bill that the Senate passed in 2013 that included a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.