Vanita Gupta confirmed as associate attorney general

The Senate narrowly confirmed Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general on Wednesday, with Senator Lisa Murkowski breaking with Republicans to join all Democrats to support her. Gupta will be the first woman of color to be associate attorney general, the second highest ranking official at the Justice Department.

Gupta was confirmed by a vote of 51 to 49. Vice President Kamala Harris was at the Capitol on Wednesday in case she needed to break a tie to confirm Gupta, but Murkowski announced this afternoon that she would support the nominee.

Most Republicans opposed Gupta, who led the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under the Obama administration, criticizing her for her previous tweets directed at Republicans. During her confirmation hearings, Republicans also questioned her on whether she supported defunding the police based on her previous comments, which she said was a mischaracterization. She has previously expressed support for reallocating some resources from police departments to deal with some issues such as mental health problems.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Murkowski said she disagreed with some of Gupta’s statements but said the nominee “spoke to how she feels called to serve in a very personal way that I thought was impactful.”

“I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated throughout her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice,” Murkowski said.

Gupta will join Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco at the Justice Department, who have both already been confirmed.

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