Murray says she has received 14,000 letters and emails and over 5,000 calls from people in Washington state, opposing Sessions by a wide margin due to his record on civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and more
Wednesday, prior to the final vote on Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor in strong opposition to his nomination. She pointed to a number of reasons she will vote no on Sessions’ confirmation, including his troubled record on civil rights, immigration policy, women’s rights, and so much more, and highlighted the number of people from Washington state who contacted her after the nomination was announced in November. Senator Murray also said that Republicans’ silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Tuesday night on the Senate floor, for reading the words of Coretta Scott King, someone who embodies the fight for justice, freedom, equality, and civil rights in America, was stunning. Senator Murray vowed to not stay silent.
“In the middle of a debate about the next Attorney General…we saw the Republican leader selectively use the rules to silence our colleague, a woman Senator, who was reading the words of an African-American woman and historic civil rights leader,” Murray said. “Reading the words of someone who embodies the fight for justice, for freedom, for equality, and for civil rights in America. Someone who all of us should be looking to for lessons in these times – not someone whose words should be silenced because she said something people may not enjoy hearing. At a moment when we are engaged in a debate about how best to defend our fellow citizens from discrimination – and fight back against forces that seek to demean others in order to gain power -I was stunned.”
Murray received numerous phone calls from worried constituents when Sessions was announced as Trump’s Department of Justice pick.
“The day President Trump announced he had picked Senator Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice, the phones in my office lit up,” she said. “People from across my home state of Washington contacted my office to express their shock, outrage, and fear. The calls came from people who help LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Groups that have tirelessly advocated for necessary criminal justice reform. Families caught in a broken immigration system. Civil rights advocates and community leaders who have fought for decades to create a more just society. Advocates and non-profits trying to help women escape domestic violence. The list goes on.”
Murray added, “In the weeks and months since the President made his choice for Attorney General known, those concerns haven’t died down. In fact, they’ve only gotten louder and more urgent as the public gets a better look at Senator Sessions’ long record, what he stands for, and where he wants to take this country. I share their concerns – and it’s why I will oppose Senator Sessions’ nomination to be Attorney General. And I urge my colleagues to join me to reject this nomination and send a message to the new president about the rule of law in this country.”
Murray continued, “The American people need an Attorney General who continues to make the fight against racism, discrimination, and hate crimes a core part of the Department’s mission. We know Senator Sessions is not the person for that job. More than 30 years ago, he couldn’t even pass muster in a Republican-majority Senate. During his confirmation hearing, senators cited his racially-charged comments and his shameful record on civil rights as a U.S. Attorney as reasons they could not support him. As my late colleague, Ted Kennedy, said at the time, “It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. federal judge.””
A tireless champion for civil and minority rights, Murray urged “members of the Senate to stand up for the Constitution, to stand with your fellow Americans. The stakes are too high to make Senator Sessions our next Attorney General. I urge you to join me in voting against this nomination. Now, more than ever, we need an Attorney General who will be independent and willing to stand up to the President Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional actions, whenever they happen. The last thing this country needs is a rubber stamp to validate this Administration’s illegal actions.”
She further examined, “This nominee’s track record of trying to undermine women’s constitutionally-protected reproductive rights is horrifying, and should scare every woman in this country. And I’ve heard from so many members of the LGTBQ community who are terrified that Senator Sessions would be tasked with protecting their rights. His votes against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and expanding hate crimes definitions to include LGBTQ Americans confirm those fears. This alone has to give my colleagues pause. When so many Americans – our friends, our family members, our coworkers – fear that their government will look the other way as they endure violence, discrimination, and marginalization just because of who they love and how they live – we must fight back with everything we’ve got.”