WASHINGTON (AP) — Bipartisan Senate opposition today blocked swift confirmation for President Barack Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights division, the emotional residue of the long-ago murder of a Philadelphia policeman and the legal representation his killer received.
The vote against advancing Debo Adegbile toward confirmation was 47-52, short of the majority needed under new procedures Democrats put in place earlier this year to overcome Republican stalling tactics. In this case, all 44 voting Republicans and eight Democrats lined up to block confirmation, leaving the nomination in grave jeopardy.
Obama swiftly condemned the vote. In a statement, he called it a "travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant."
Administration officials declined to say if they would seek a second vote in the hopes they could change the minds of a few Democrats, although Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is positioned to call for one.
The vote was a victory for Republicans and the National Fraternal Order of Police, who said Adegbile's connection with the legal case of Mumia Abu-Jamal disqualified him from holding high public office.