confirmation conversation

Senate confirms Lipstadt in late-night vote

‘This was long overdue and I’m glad we got her confirmed tonight,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told JI

Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage

Deborah Lipstadt walks a red carpet for 'Denial' during the 11th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 17, 2016 in Rome, Italy.

The Senate confirmed Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism by a voice vote late Wednesday evening, eight months after the Biden administration first announced the Holocaust historian’s nomination.

To call the voice vote on Lipstadt, the unanimous consent of the full Senate was required — meaning any single senator, including some Republicans who have vocally opposed her nomination, could have come to the floor to block the fast-tracked process.

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), who is Jewish and represents Lipstadt’s home state, came to the Senate floor on Wednesday evening to request the voice vote.

“I’m going to ask that this body do something that we should have done months ago,” Ossoff said. “It’s time for the Senate, at long last, to confirm this nominee… Right now as we speak the scourge of antisemitism is rising again in this country and around the world. If we mean the words ‘never again,’ then at long last, Madam President, let’s confirm Deborah Lipstadt to fight antisemitism.”

In his remarks, Ossoff also discussed his own ancestors’ immigration to the U.S. in 1913, fleeing antisemitism in Eastern Europe. Ossoff said he held copies of the manifests logging their arrival at Ellis Island when he was sworn in as a senator last year.

The late-night confirmation caps off a quagmire that left Lipstadt stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — which cleared Lipstadt’s nomination on Tuesday — for months. Republicans on the committee objected to a tweet by Lipstadt accusing committee member Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of trafficking in “white supremacy/nationalism” and blocked her for months from receiving a confirmation hearing and subsequently delayed a committee vote.

“She’s eminently qualified. This was long overdue and I’m glad we got her confirmed tonight,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Jewish Insider.

Johnson and Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), another outspoken critic of Lipstadt’s nomination, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The delays to Lipstadt’s nomination brought together a wide range of Jewish groups to push for her confirmation, several of which celebrated her confirmation Wednesday evening.