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A closely divided Senate confirmed the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general on Wednesday after a historically tumultuous confirmation process that saw the senator from Alabama come under fire for his views on race and civil rights.
All but one Democrat voted against confirming Sessions, while his Republican colleagues unanimously backed him. The final tally of senators was 52 to 47.
Many senators broke into applause after the vote over one of its own members being elevated to the cabinet. But they were almost all Republicans. A handful of Democrats, including Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Bill Nelson of Florida, gave a few polite claps.
The confirmation process for Sessions, a four-term senator, tested the Senate’s norms of treating colleagues with deference.
Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey became the first sitting senator ever to testify against the nomination of a colleague, and growing tensions on the floor led to the rare use of Senate procedure on Tuesday to silence Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for quoting a 30-year-old letter attacking Sessions written by Coretta Scott King, the late widow of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sessions came under scrutiny for his past record on civil rights. He had previously been nominated to be a federal district judge in 1986 by the then president Ronald Reagan but allegations of…