WASHINGTON: Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden's nominee to a senior post at the US Justice Department, has expressed regret for using "harsh rhetoric" in the last several years over social media as she faced sharp criticism from Republicans during her confirmation hearing, becoming the second Indian-American to face trouble over her past Twitter outbursts.
Gupta, 46, was nominated to serve as the Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice.
I regret the harsh rhetoric that I have used at times in the last several years. I can pledge to you today that if I am confirmed, you won't be hearing that kind of rhetoric for me," Gupta told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Gupta was responding to sharp criticism from Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Senator Chuck Grassley, the panel's top Republican, said that while Gupta, has performed "admirable" work in the past, her past comments about Republicans gave him concerns over whether she could fill a critical Justice Department position, Fox News reported.
Top Republican Senator Ted Cruz also accused her of being an extreme partisan advocate.
If confirmed, she would be the first woman of colour to be the associate attorney general.
Gupta told lawmakers that it will be the honour of her lifetime to assume the Associate Attorney General's responsibility to oversee the enforcement of laws to protect the health, safety, and economic security of all Americans.
That includes ensuring fair competition and preventing abuse of market power that harms consumers; combating environmental degradation and promoting environmental justice; enforcing nation's civil rights laws and prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; supporting crime victims, and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
My parents are proud immigrants from India, and they believe more than anything in the promise of America. Growing up, they taught me that loving this country brings with it the obligation to do the necessary work to perfect our union. That belief is shared by my husband, whose family fled violence and war in Vietnam and sought refuge on these great shores, Gupta said.
Her parents Rajiv and Kamla Gupta, she said, were watching the hearing.
It is because of this nation's welcome and my parent's sacrifice that I sit before this Committee today. Only one agency in our federal government bears the name of a value. By virtue of that name that value of justice we know the Department carries a unique charge and North Star, she said.
Responding to a question, she said the health and safety of children has been something that she has long been concerned with throughout her career and in this particular facility the conditions were quite horrific.
And it was important that I was able, with other lawyers and advocates, to step in to protect the health and wellbeing of these children's while complying with our nation's immigration laws.
, she said.
If I am confirmed as associate attorney general, I will be motivated to enforce our federal laws to protect and enforce our immigration laws.
I believe that we can have border security and safety for all of our communities.
, Gupta said.
And that is a dual role and responsibility that I would look forward to working, of course, with the deputy attorney general and the attorney general who have even greater authority over immigration than I would," she said.
Gupta said when she was at the Justice Department before, hate crimes enforcement was a top priority.
At the hearing, Republican Senator Cruz from Texas accused her of being an extreme partisan advocate who has also demonstrated significant hostility to religious liberty.
Gupta, as I look at your record, your record is one of extreme partisan advocates.
Your record is an ideologue.
Now, there's a role in our democratic and political process for ideologues, for people that are extreme, radical advocates.
That role, I believe, is not being the number three lawyer at the Department of Justice in charge of the impartial and fair administration of justice, he said.
As I look at your record on every single issue, the positions you've advocated for are on the extreme Left and you've demonstrated an intolerance for and hostility to anyone that disagrees with the extreme Left political positions.
" Cruz said.
Cruz alleged that Gupta has demonstrated significant hostility to religious liberty.
You have defended the Obama administration's targeting and persecuting of the Little Sisters of the Poor, he said.
Should Big Tech be censoring more or censoring less?" Cruz asked.
I'm not sure I know which side of the ledger you're talking about.
They have community standards that they are not enforcing at many of these companies that are creating a lot of problems around issues in our democracy.
For a long time, Facebook was allowing unlawful ad targeting and housing ads," Gupta said.
Last week, In a major setback to President Biden, Indian-American Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, after the ruling party and the administration failed to muster enough votes in the Senate to secure her confirmation.
Tanden, 50, had been facing a tough time for the confirmation of her nomination over her past Twitter outbursts against several lawmakers, including those from her own Democratic Party.
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