The Senate voted on Tuesday to break a Democratic filibuster of the nomination of William Barr to be the next US attorney general.
The 55-to-44 vote split on partisan lines with only three Democrats voting to advance Trump’s nominee. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined Republicans to support Barr’s nomination. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to vote no.
Nearly all the Democrats running or considering running for president voted against advancing the nomination, though Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey did not vote.
A final vote is expected later this week.
Many Democrats raised concerns about Barr’s oversight of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election because he had expressed doubts about the probe in a memo he wrote to the Department of Justice before he was nominated.
Democrats also worry that Barr is not fully committed to releasing Mueller’s report on his findings once he completes his investigation.
Republicans have praised Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush’s administration, as a reliable pick who will be a steady leader at the embattled department, which has drawn fire from Trump almost since the beginning of his term.
Barr will replace acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker who has filled the role temporarily after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired by Trump last year.