Just hours after President-Elect Donald Trump announced that he would choose Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for the job of U.S. Attorney General, Democrats were trying to build a wall of opposition against him in the Congress, but the early signs were favorable for Republicans.
“Jeff Sessions is widely respected in the United States Senate and is a great choice for Attorney General,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), as a number of GOP Senators wasted no time in publicly getting behind their colleague.
“Sen. Sessions is well liked and well regarded, even by those who don’t always agree with him,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “I look forward to supporting his nomination.”
Democrats would need the votes of Senators like Flake and that of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to have a chance to stop Sessions. But both swiftly short-circuited those plans.
Sessions will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee – of which he is a member – to make his case to be Attorney General in the Trump Administration.
In 1986, Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship by President Reagan – but he was rejected by the GOP-controlled panel. He later returned as a U.S. Senator to sit on that same committee.
During that contentious hearing thirty years ago, Democrats all but accused Sessions of being a racist, and they have vowed to re-visit that in coming months.
But one Democrat from a state won easily by Trump quickly signaled Friday that he will support Sessions, as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia sided with the GOP.
Manchin’s announcement means Democrats will need at least four GOP Senators to break ranks – maybe a tall order for early in the Trump Administration.
It’s also important to remember that Democrats changed the rules several years ago on nominees, so 60 votes are no longer needed to force action on a choice like Sessions.
Instead, Republicans will only need a bare majority for victory – and at this point, that seems to be well within their grasp.