Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions Reuters

The Senate voted on Wednesday night to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general.

No Republicans voted against Sessions in the 52-47 vote, reported The Hill. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the only Democrat to back Sessions.

The confirmation caps a long debate over Sessions, which escalated this week, when Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written in 1986 that accused Sessions, a U.S. attorney at the time, of using the power of his office to prevent blacks from voting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected to Warren’s speech, saying she had impugned another member of the Senate. In a 49-43 vote, the Senate agreed, preventing Warren from speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump for president when he was running in the Republican party’s primaries, was criticized by Democrats over his record on issues of race and civil rights.

When Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, he was dogged by racist comments he was accused of making while serving as U.S. attorney in Alabama.

During Sessions’ confirmation hearing, a former assistant U.S. attorney, Thomas Figures, who is black, said Sessions referred to him as “boy,” and told him to be careful what he said to “white folks.”

Sessions said he never called Figures “boy,” but the late Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Edward Kennedy, reportedly produced a letter from an organization of black lawyers that said Figures made the allegation about Sessions to the organization’s investigators at least twice.

The Hill noted that while the issue of race had always hung over the debate, Sessions is well-liked personally by many senators.

Sessions will replace Dana Boente, an attorney from Virginia who took over the job on a temporary basis after Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates last week, when she instructed Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending his executive order on immigration and refugees.