WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed James Comey on Monday to become FBI director, elevating the one-time Justice Department official who defied efforts by President George W. Bush’s White House to renew a program that allowed warrantless eavesdropping.
Comey was approved, 93 to 1, after one of the Senate’s leading conservatives abruptly ended delaying tactics that had blocked a vote on the nomination.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, mentioned as a possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, had been thwarting the vote over his concerns about the FBI’s domestic use of drones.
Minutes before a showdown vote that seemed likely to force an end to his delays, Paul announced he would allow a vote on Comey, saying he had received a letter from the FBI that answered his questions about drones.
Paul was the only ‘‘no’’ vote.
President Obama nominated Comey, 52, in June. He will succeed Robert Mueller, who is stepping down in September after 12 years heading the agency.
Comey was the Justice Department’s No. 2 official from 2003 to 2005 under Bush. He gained attention during a brief stint as acting attorney general in 2004, when he and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was ill, rejected an effort by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to have Justice renew a program allowing eavesdropping without court warrants of domestic phone calls and e-mails.