Who is Jeff Sessions, the new U.S. attorney general?

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Who is Jeff Sessions, the new U.S. attorney general?

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President Donald Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence administers the oath of office to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by his wife Mary, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was sworn in as attorney general of the United States Thursday after his nomination was confirmed on a 52-47 vote Wednesday night in the Senate. Only one Democrat supported Sessions’ nomination – U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia.

Sessions faced a bumpy road to the confirmation with Democratic senators grilling him in confirmation hearings over his stance on voting rights, immigration and his denied federal judgeship.

Who is the new attorney general of the United States?

Here’s a look at Sessions’ life, career, key votes and his stance on certain issues.

Early life

  • Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III was born on Christmas Eve, 1946, in Selma, Alabama
  • He is an Eagle Scout and has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
  • He is a graduate of Huntingdon College, in Montgomery, and earned a law degree from the University of Alabama in 1973

His career

  • 1973-1975: Practiced law in Russellville, Alabama

  • 1973-1986: U.S. Army Reserve, attained the rank of captain

  • 1977-1981: Practiced law in Mobile, Alabama

  • 1981-1993: United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama

  • 1994-1996: Alabama Attorney General

  • 1997-2017: U.S. Senator from Alabama

Committees he was assigned to as a senator

Sessions has been assigned to many committees in his 20 years in the Senate. Here are the committees he was assigned to at the beginning of the 115th Congress, while he was undergoing the confirmation process.  

  • United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

  • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

  • Committee on Armed Services

  • Committee on the Budget

  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

  • Committee on Environment and Public Works

  • He has also served on the Judiciary Committee prior to the 115 Congress

Key votes

Here are some of the votes Sessions made while a U.S. senator – from Ballotpedia

• Voted nay on the Trans-Pacific pipeline

• Voted nay on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

• Voted yes on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion

• Voted yes on barring United States Department of Health and Human Services grants to organizations that perform abortions

• Voted nay on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines

• Voted yes on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions

• Voted nay on $192 billion additional anti-recession stimulus spending  

• Voted yes on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures  

• Voted yes on paying down federal debt by rating programs' effectiveness 

• Voted nay on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

• Voted yes on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration

• Voted yes on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage

• Voted yes on protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems

• Voted nay on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program 

• Voted nay on prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land

• Voted nay on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets  

• Voted nay on background checks at gun shows

• Voted yes on the congressional review and oversight of the Iran nuclear program bill

• Voted nay on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general

• Voted yes on an amendment that requires the completion of the fence along the United States-Mexico border; the amendment was voted down by the full Senate

His stance on issues

Immigration – Sessions takes a hard line on immigration. However during his confirmation hearing in January, he denied he would support a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

Voting rights - Sessions prosecuted desegregation cases in Alabama and points to that work as evidence of his commitment to voting rights for everyone. His detractors said he didn’t have as much input into those cases as he has said he had.

Policing – Sessions supports police and said that, in general, police have been “unfairly maligned” in recent years. 

Sentencing – Sessions is in favor of tough, mandatory minimums. He has long been a strong supporter of eliminating sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine charges.

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