A Senate panel hearing Tuesday to vote on Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general was as much a fiery rebuke by Democrats of his nomination as it was of President Donald Trump's immigration-related executive order.
Top-ranking Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee began the hearing pushing back at Sessions' record — on civil rights, women's health care and his hard-line immigration stance — while questioning whether he can be nonpartisan while enforcing the nation's laws independent from what the White House would want.
Sessions, who was not in attendance at the hearing, was the first senator to endorse Trump's candidacy for president.
More from NBC News:
Johnny Depp spent $3M to blast Hunter S. Thompson's ashes out of cannon: lawsuit
Apple CEO weighs legal action against Trump's travel ban
'Fire hose' of lava flows into ocean off Hawaii
"I have no confidence that Sen. Sessions will do that," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said of him remaining independent. "Instead, he has been the fiercest, the most dedicated, the most loyal [supporter] of the Trump agenda."
After the morning Judiciary panel hearing stretched into the afternoon, the expected party-line vote to approve Sessions was delayed by Democrats until Wednesday. It would clear the way for the full Senate to vote on the four-term senator to become head of the Department of Justice — a role thrown into sudden upheaval hours after the firing of the acting attorney general.
The Judiciary Committee's hearing lasted longer than usual as Republicans used their time to support Sessions as someone who believes in "equal justice for all," while Democratic members took shots against Trump's executive order widely criticized as a ban against Muslims.