"James Comey proved that his reputation for unwavering integrity and professionalism is well-deserved," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said during Monday's brief debate.
Leahy expressed concerns about Comey's approval in 2005 of a legal memo that he said authorized the use of torture, including waterboarding, in which water is poured onto a suspect's face to make them feel like they're drowning. But Leahy cited Comey's answers at a committee hearing this month, when Comey said the FBI would not allow abusive treatment of prisoners.
Comey was praised by the Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, who called him "a fine choice."
Monday's vote led off a week in which majority Democrats were hoping to push a parade of nominations through the chamber. Among them were President Barack Obama's picks of Samantha Power as U.N. ambassador and B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, for which votes on ending delaying tactics were expected Wednesday.
This is Congress' last week before its five-week summer recess.
Before rising to Justice's second-highest job, Comey was a federal prosecutor for 15 years.
Paul had threatened for weeks to block Comey's nomination until the FBI reveals more details about its use of drones in the U.S. He had written three letters to the FBI since June, seeking details on the agency's use of drones and the policies it follows in deploying them.
The agency's latest response, sent Monday, said the FBI has used drones 10 times since 2006 for surveillance in kidnappings, search and rescue missions, drug and fugitive investigations. Among them was last winter's standoff between authorities and Jimmy Lee Dykes, who was shot to death after holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker in Alabama, the letter said.