The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced Merrick Garland's nomination to serve as US President Joe Biden’s attorney general, NBC News reports.
Garland's nomination was reported out of the Democratic-led committee along bipartisan lines in a 15-7 vote.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking member of the committee, as well as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, joined all Democrats on the panel in support of the nomination, according to the report.
The seven Republicans who voted against Garland were Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mike Lee of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
The committee's action comes a week after Garland testified before the panel about how he would lead the Justice Department if confirmed by the Senate. During the testimony, he assured senators that he would protect the department's independence and not allow politics to interfere with the job.
Cruz, in explaining his decision to vote against the nomination, said Garland "refused to answer virtually anything" during his confirmation hearings.
Garland, who helped investigate and prosecute the Oklahoma City bombers in the 1990s, said that the Department of Justice must do everything in its power to ensure that Americans and democratic institutions are protected from such extremists.
The confirmation of Garland, 68, comes after Republicans opted not to consider his nomination by former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court in 2016. Garland has served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1997 and was its chief judge from 2013 to 2020.
If confirmed, Garland would be the fifth Jewish official in Biden’s Cabinet.