David Barron, a controversial nominee to serve as a judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, narrowly cleared a key test vote in the Senate on Wednesday.
The chamber voted 52 to 43 to cut off debate and advance the nomination to a full Senate vote. (Democrats eliminated the 60-vote threshold in November for non-Supreme Court nominees, which now require a simply majority.)
Barron, a former Obama Justice Department official, has come under fire for writing memos that provided legal justification for the administration’s targeted killing program. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke publicly on Wednesday against the nomination.
Unless some senators who supported “cloture” on his nomination change their minds, Barron will be confirmed when he comes up for a final vote.