Red-state Senate Democrats, under political pressure to back Jeff Sessions for attorney general, may oppose his nomination to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, citing his opposition to a 2013 domestic violence law that overwhelmingly passed Congress, Politico reports. Sessions’ issues with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) may be an insurmountable hurdle for a trio of moderate Democratic senators — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana — whom pro-Sessions forces have targeted so Sessions can head to the Justice Department with some bipartisan cover. The conservative Alabama senator supported previous versions of VAWA, but he voted against it when it was reauthorized in 2013, when new provisions were included that made it easier to prosecute domestic violence against Native American women.
“I’m really concerned about the position he took,” said Heitkamp. “The reason he gave was not very knowledgeable about what happens in Indian country and the Indian jurisdiction.” A deep-pocketed conservative group has spent more than $500,000 on ads bolstering Sessions that target McCaskill, Heitkamp and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-In.). All three are expected to face tough reelection bids next year. Anti-domestic violence groups have mobilized against Sessions’ nomination, with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence calling him “unqualified” to lead DOJ. Opponents also cite comments he made after a tape surfaced of Trump bragging about grabbing women sexually without their consent. Sessions told The Weekly Standard that “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault” — a remark he said was mischaracterized.