In his opening remarks, Emanuel talked about how his mother and father impacted him.
"For my mother and father, America was a place of possibility. In his wallet, my father carried a photo of the boat that carried him to the United States," Emanuel said. "I wish he were here today. While my mother is proud, he would be shocked and amazed that I was sitting here."
The senior senator from Illinois offered his fulsome support for Emanuel, who also served as former President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.
"Any mayor who can cobble together a budget with the Chicago City Council is ready for major-league diplomacy," said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) in his introduction. "Rahm Emanuel's lifetime of public service has prepared him to speak for America on the global stage."
Emanuel was asked about the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald during the hearing. Some members of the House, along with some activists, say Chicago's handling of McDonald's death should disqualify Emanuel from the post.
McDonald was shot 16 times as he ran away from police on Oct. 20, 2015 – exactly seven years before Wednesday's hearing. Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was eventually sentenced to prison time for the murder.
On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked exactly when he realized that police had shot McDonald 16 times, and that McDonald was a juvenile.
"When the video became public, I learned what happened and the consequence of what happened that night," Emanuel said. "The details were in the public domain when the corporation counsel briefed the aldermen."
Emanuel talked about his relationship with McDonald's great-uncle, Pastor Marvin Hunter, who sent the Senate a letter supporting Emanuel's nomination.
"Most importantly, we've gotten to find a common understanding, and I'm appreciative of his support for my nomination as I am of the other leaders in Chicago and the leaders here in the house that I served with," Emanuel said.