President Donald Trump’s nomination for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, has been confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 52 to 47.
Jeff Sessions’ confirmation follows a series of divisive hearings during which Democrats attacked his record on civil rights.
Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced after recalling historic allegations of racism against Jeff Sessions.
Jeff Sessions’ nomination was among Donald Trump’s most controversial.
Voting largely followed party lines, with just one Democratic senator – Joe Manchin of West Virginia – voting for Jeff Sessions.
Jeff Sessions’ Republican colleagues in the chamber applauded him as their majority carried him over the line. He will now take charge of the justice department and its 113,000 employees, including 93 US attorneys.
Addressing the chamber after the vote, Jeff Sessions said: “There is no greater honor than to represent the people of Alabama in the greatest deliberative body in the world.
“I appreciate the full debate we’ve had and thank those afterwards who found sufficient confidence to cast their vote to confirm me as the next attorney general.
“I fully understand the august responsibility of this office.”
However, Jeff Sessions added that “denigrating people who don’t agree with us is not good for our politics”.
During debates ahead of the vote, Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic senators recalled criticism of Jeff Sessions by Martin Luther King’s widow, who opposed his nomination as a federal judge in 1986, alleging he had intimidated black voters.
That nomination was rejected by a US Senate panel amid concerns over allegedly racist comments made by Jeff Sessions, and remarks which appeared to be sympathetic to white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.
David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, welcomed the confirmation, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Trump’s appointment of Bannon, Flynn and Sessions are the first steps in the project of taking America back.”
Elizabeth Warren, who was temporarily banned from the chamber, wrote: “If Jeff Sessions makes even the tiniest attempt to bring his racism, sexism & bigotry into the Justice Department, he’ll hear from all of us.”