WASHINGTON–The U.S. Senate narrowly defeated President Obama’s nominee to oversee the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division due to Republican and law enforcement objections to the role he played in the defense of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In a statement, Obama called the defeat a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
Only 47 senators, all Democrats, voted to advance Debo Adegbile’s nomination while 52 senators voted to block him, including 7 Democrats. Vice President Biden presided over the vote in the event he could break a tie, which was unnecessary after Democrats failed to muster enough support. Obama said “those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant.”
The Democrats voting to block the nomination were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, John Walsh of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Chris Coons of Delaware. Coons, Pryor, and Walsh all face re-election this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also voted against the nomination in the end, but only for procedural reasons that will allow him to bring it up again if he so chooses.
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