Vanita Gupta, DOJ nominee, sees Senate vote postponed


After a full day of intense debate, the Senate on Thursday postponed a scheduled floor vote for Vanita Gupta, who was nominated to serve as the third-highest official at the Justice Department.

Senators were scheduled to vote on Ms. Gupta’s nomination to serve as associate attorney general, but Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer asked late Thursday to push it back until next week.

It is unclear why he asked to delay the vote.

Democrats have unanimously supported her confirmation, citing her experience and commitment to investigate and prevent hate crimes, including those targeting the Asian community.

“The plain truth is that Vanita Gupta is the right person at the time for this job,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, said Thursday. “The Senate should confirm as she is supremely qualified for this eminently important assignment and should do so swiftly with bipartisan support.”

Mr. Schumer pointed out that Ms. Gupta earned endorsements from law enforcement agencies, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, which twice endorsed former President Donald Trump. He said GOP efforts to paint Ms. Gupta as a “crazy, left-wing radical” were “just absurd.”

“The political right seems to relish in trying to score political points by connecting every Justice Department nominee to hot-button partisan issues, whether or not they have relevance — sometimes to the point of absurdity,” he said.

Republicans, meanwhile, blasted her as a progressive activist who will damage the Justice Department’s relationship with local police departments. They also attacked her tweets criticizing Republican senators and conservative judges.

Ms. Gupta has made previous statements appearing to support the decriminalization of all drugs and called for legislatures to heed calls from Black Lives Matter activists to defund the police. In Senate testimony last year, she said all Americans have racist biases.

“She’s unfit because of her radical view that every single American and every single institution in America is racist,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican. “She’s unfit because she lacks the temperament to do the job as evidenced by her relentless attacks on judges and senators alike.”

Ms. Gupta distanced herself from these positions during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She told lawmakers she doesn’t support decriminalizing drugs or defunding the police.

Republicans say she was just telling senators what they wanted to hear to earn confirmation. They had requested a second hearing to drill down some of her positions.

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, said Ms. Gupta’s answers “were inconsistent with her past statements and in other cases difficult to defend.”

“She seemed to be attempting to distance herself from fairly radical positions that she had in fact taken in the past,” he continued. “Does President Biden really think its a good idea to put radical ideologues who publicly espouse support for defunding the police in charge of the Department of Justice?”

The Senate Judiciary Committee was split on the nomination, with the panel vote last month ending in a 11-11 tie along party lines. Chairman Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, pushed the vote through, citing a rule that requires committees to break if the full Senate has been in session for two hours.

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