The heads of the congressional black, Asian and Hispanic caucuses are urging senators to vote down the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, warning that the veteran Alabama senator is “unfit” to lead the Justice Department and that his agenda will cause “great harm” to minority communities.
In a letter obtained by POLITICO, the lawmakers excoriate Sessions’ policy stances on a myriad of issues he’d oversee at DOJ — including voting rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, drug policy and gay rights. The caucus leaders, who are all members of the House and don’t get a vote on confirming nominees, also expressed concerns about Sessions’ view on birthright citizenship and refugee policy.
“Senator Sessions has an alarming record that is of great concern to the communities of color we represent, from his views on race issues to his resistance toward improving our broken immigration system and restoring the right to vote,” wrote Democratic Reps. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Judy Chu of California and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.
The trio of lawmakers also invoked Sessions’ failed bid three decades ago to be confirmed as a federal judge, which was derailed by accusations that he was racially insensitive as a federal prosecutor. That history, the lawmakers contended, and his subsequent nomination to be the nation’s chief law enforcement official “makes it clear that the concerns expressed by communities of color have not been heard.”
Though they declined to say whether they believe Sessions is racist, “what can be said definitively is that Sen. Sessions, in a career spanning more than three decades in public service, has advocated for and in some cases implemented policies that are in direct conflict with the values of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, its members and the people we represent,” they wrote.
Transition officials have fought vigorously against allegations of racism. They’ve enlisted African-American supporters to testify on behalf of Sessions’ character and noted that at least one senator who voted against Sessions’ judicial nomination, the late former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, later said he regretted opposing him.
Sessions’ confirmation hearing begins Tuesday.