The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to advance the nomination of Lisa Monaco to serve as the No. 2 Justice Department official, but was deadlocked on Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee to serve as the agency’s third highest-ranking official, leaving it to Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, to bring her vote to the full Senate.
A bipartisan group of senators on the panel supported Ms. Monaco’s nomination to serve as deputy attorney general on a voice vote. Ms. Monaco, a longtime Justice Department veteran and respected national security expert, is expected to receive bipartisan support during her confirmation vote, and if approved she will run the department’s day-to-day operations and oversee the nation’s federal prosecutors.
But after nearly two hours of debate, the committee voted along party lines, 11-11, on Ms. Gupta’s nomination.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican, expressed a desire from his party members for a second hearing to further question her about legal immunities for police officers, drug decriminalization, defunding the police and the death penalty.
Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the committee’s chairman, had denied on Wednesday the request for a second hearing, calling it a stall tactic to slow her confirmation.
Mr. Durbin said in a letter to Republicans that three of them had not shown up to her first hearing, and that of the eight who did attend, only five took the opportunity to ask a second round of questions. He also said that only two Republicans had been willing to meet with her.
He charged that Republicans repeatedly misrepresented Ms. Gupta’s views, particularly on policing, and he noted that a broad coalition of police and sheriffs groups had supported her nomination, recommending her to the committee.
Several Republicans gave lengthy comments opposing Ms. Gupta, including Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who called Ms. Gupta a liar for saying that she has never advocated for the decriminalization of all drugs. He pointed to a 2012 editorial in which she said that simple possession of drugs should be decriminalized.
Mr. Cornyn has a long history with Ms. Gupta, who rose to prominence in 2003 when she proved that dozens of men, almost all of them Black, had been arrested on fabricated drug charges in Tulia, Tex. The narcotics agent behind those arrests, Tom Coleman, was found guilty of perjury and Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, pardoned 35 people as a result of Ms. Gupta’s work.
In 1999, Mr. Cornyn had presented Mr. Coleman with the Texas Lawman of the Year award for his work in Tulia.
Even though Ms. Gupta does not have the support of a majority of the committee, Mr. Schumer, as majority leader, has the right to bring any nominee he sees fit to the floor. In that case, Ms. Gupta will need the support all Senate Democrats and at least one Republican, or Vice President Kamala Harris, to be confirmed.