Senate Committee Schedules Confirmation Hearing for Biden’s Attorney General Pick

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 10, 2021

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 9 set the date for the confirmation hearing of Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department.

The hearing will run over two days and is scheduled to begin on Feb. 22. Garland’s testimony will be held on the first day, and external witnesses will be invited to testify on day two, according to the committee leaders.

“I’m pleased that we can announce that the Committee will be moving forward on a bipartisan basis,” committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement.

“Judge Garland will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor and integrity. He is a consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly on his merits.”

Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also indicated that he agrees to a swift but thorough review of Garland’s qualifications.

This comes after a power-sharing deal was reached between Republicans and Democrats, which transferred the leadership of the committee to Durbin from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). Prior to the agreement, Senate Democrats failed to convince Graham to schedule a hearing for Garland on Feb. 8.

Graham contended that holding a hearing for Garland on Feb. 8 wouldn’t make sense, as the Senate was preparing to hold the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump the next day on Feb. 9.

“The Senate is about to conduct its first-ever impeachment trial of a former president, and only its fourth trial of a president, incumbent or not. Under the procedure the Senate has adopted, Donald Trump’s trial is set to start on February 9. But you want us to rush through Judge Garland’s hearing on February 8,” Graham wrote at the time.

Durbin had previously stated that confirming Garland as the nation’s top law enforcement officer was a matter of priority to protect national security. He said Garland’s hearing was particularly urgent following the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.

“That situation needs to be carefully reviewed and examined by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General as quickly as possible,” Durbin said.

The Illinois senator said on Jan. 21 that he had met with Garland and discussed priorities at the Justice Department, including implementing the First Step Act, addressing CCP virus outbreaks in federal prisons, reducing gun violence, and reinvigorating the department’s role in civil rights and voting rights.

Garland, from Chicago, currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He is best known for being nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2016 to the Supreme Court.

To be confirmed, Garland must receive a majority of votes in the Senate. Democrats currently hold a slim majority.

Biden also announced Lisa Monaco as nominee for deputy attorney general, Vanita Gupta as nominee for associate attorney general, and Kristen Clarke as nominee for assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

The committee is scheduled to vote on Garland’s nomination on March 1.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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