April 21, 2021

Vanita Gupta was never really in danger of being blocked from serving as associate attorney general (the Justice Department's No. 3 position), so long as she had the backing of all 50 Senate Democrats. But the upper chamber's GOP still put up a fierce fight by trying to paint the Biden nominee as a "radical" who would weaken law enforcement, as Politico reported earlier this week.

In the end, though, Gupta's confirmation is set to move forward, and Vice President Kamala Harris won't be needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. Instead, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska) will cross the aisle. On Wednesday, Murkowski joined Democrats in voting to advance Gupta's confirmation, and she said she'll stay the course when the final vote comes around.

Murkowski explained that after looking at Gupta's record and sitting down with her, she was convinced by the "passion that she carries with the work she performs" as well as her determination to serve in the post despite the contentious nomination process. "I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated through her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice," Murkowski said on the Senate floor. Tim O'Donnell

March 15, 2021

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was confirmed as interior secretary on Monday, becoming the first Native American to lead the agency and the first to hold a Cabinet-level position.

She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, and in 2018, Haaland and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

The Senate confirmation vote was 51-40. While four Republicans joined all Democrats to vote for Haaland, several members of the GOP were vocal in their objection to her, claiming she is "extreme" in her opposition to fracking and drilling on public lands. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) disagreed, saying Haaland's views "fall well within the mainstream and fairly represent many of her constituents, I would say the vast majority of her constituents."

During her confirmation hearing, Haaland said while there is "no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come," climate change "must be addressed" and the Department of the Interior "has a role in harnessing the clean energy potential of our public lands to create jobs and new economic opportunities." Catherine Garcia

July 31, 2019

With a vote of 56-34, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Kelly Craft to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Craft is the current U.S. ambassador to Canada. Along with her husband, coal executive Joe Craft, she has donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including President Trump, and will be the first major political donor under any administration to occupy the U.N. post, The Associated Press reports.

A longtime GOP activist, Craft is friends with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who praised her work as ambassador to Canada from the Senate floor. Democrats were critical, pointing out that she spent more than half of her time as ambassador outside of Ottawa and has little to no diplomatic and policy experience. She has also made remarks skeptical of climate change, and during her confirmation hearing said as U.N. ambassador, she would be "an advocate for addressing climate change."

The U.N. ambassador post has been vacant since December, when Nikki Haley stepped down. Trump first nominated former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, but she took her name out of the running. During her confirmation hearing, Craft said that like Haley, she would be pro-Israel and try her best to reform the U.N. Catherine Garcia

January 23, 2018

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, with a vote of 85-12.

Powell, 64, will lead the country's central bank and have major influence over the economy. He is succeeding Janet Yellen, whose term ends on Feb. 3. Powell, a lawyer and investment manager, has spent nearly six years on the Fed's board, and is viewed as a centrist, The Associated Press reports. He's been praised by Republicans and Democrats, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) calling him a "thoughtful policymaker." Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2017

Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, was confirmed as agriculture secretary Monday by the Senate on a vote of 87-11.

Purdue's father was a farmer, and he has owned several agricultural businesses. He is not affiliated with Perdue Farms or the Perdue food company. Perdue, 70, will oversee 100,000 employees and such programs as food safety, agricultural subsidies, and rural development projects. Catherine Garcia

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