Alabama

Democrats Drop Congeniality as They Fire Away at Sessions
‘Give me a break,’ attorney general implores at one point

From left, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal talk Wednesday as Sessions arrives for the Senate Judiciary oversight hearing on the Justice Department. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions took an unusual path to the witness table before Wednesday’s Justice Department oversight hearing. He looped behind the dais to smile and shake the hands of his former Senate Judiciary Committee colleagues and pat them on the shoulder.

But the next four hours made it clear that congeniality has faded for the former Alabama Republican senator. Democrats lectured him on immigration policy, questioned his truthfulness in previous testimony about Russia and criticized his implementation of the Trump administration’s conservative policies.

Opinion: Working Around Trump on Issues That Matter
Reaching for compromise, change seekers are tuning out the president

Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Richard J. Durbin sponsored a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenders. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The kiss-and-make-up press conference with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the most awkward dates in the history of, well, dates, as my Roll Call colleague Walter Shapiro pointed out. They need each other, sure, but will tax cuts be the glue to hold intermittent and shaky truces together for any length of time?

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky looked to stay on Trump’s good side over genial rounds of golf, but they’d better not relax. All it takes is a bit of criticism, and the president shows that the loyalty he demands goes only one way. They need not reach all the way back to the personal insults of last year’s GOP primary race for proof.

Hatch Has High Hopes for Medical Marijuana Bill
83-year-old Mormon Republican emerges as unlikely champion

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican, has emerged as an unlikely champion of medical marijuana. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is an unlikely advocate for a medical marijuana bill.

An 83-year-old Utah Republican and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hatch says he is staunchly against recreational drug use. But as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage states across the country, the Senate’s president pro tempore sees an opportunity in advancing the use of cannabis for pain management.

Senators Ready to Confront Sessions at Oversight Hearing
Attorney General likely to face contentious questions about his leadership

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions returns to face his former Senate Judiciary Committee colleagues Wednesday in an oversight hearing likely to include contentious questions about Justice Department actions since he took on the role eight months ago.

“The attorney general will earn his money that day,” said committee member John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican.

Trump, McConnell All Smiles, All the Time
President, majority leader say they are on the same page, despite tension

President Donald Trump, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., say their relationship is A-OK. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is ready to cancel Christmas recess to get a tax bill done, but President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the effort could slip into next year.

Trump on Monday called his relationship with McConnell “very good” amid reports of tension between the two leaders. During a remarkable and rowdy midday joint press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump declared he and McConnell “are probably now … closer than ever before.

Thad Cochran, Still Ailing, Will Miss Senate Votes This Week
Urinary tract infection sidelines Mississippi Republican for extended time

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has been absent from the Capitol since September and will continue to be away while he recuperates. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Thad Cochran will not immediately return to Washington following a four-week absence, raising speculation about the 79-year-old Mississippi Republican’s ability to continue as Appropriations chairman during the remainder of the 115th Congress.

His absence could also have implications for the budget resolution vote this week, though debate was still on track as of Monday, even after Cochran’s office confirmed he would not be present.

Cicilline Pledges to Donate Brain to CTE Research
Nearly all NFL players studied after their deaths had concussion-related brain damage

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., played Pop Warner football in his youth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump publicly decries football for going soft and over-penalizing vicious helmet-to-helmet hits, Rep. David Cicilline pledged last week to donate his brain to head trauma research.

The Rhode Island Democrat and five of his colleagues hosted a panel of Boston University researchers and a former NFL player to hear about the correlation between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Opinion: In a Culture War, American Values Lose
Nation’s top leaders have already picked a side

Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout at a Colts-49ers NFL game in Indianapolis was a political stunt that disrespected several players’ support of equality, justice and police accountability, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Over the weekend, a group of white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, faces proudly uncovered and tiki torches in hand, with a message of division.

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said to applause, “You are going to have to get used to white identity” — and warned of more to come.

Pro-Trump Great America Alliance Endorses in Three Senate Primaries
Rosendale, Morrisey and Blackburn received the group’s backing

Great American Alliance endorsed Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s bid for Senate on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Great America Alliance, an issue advocacy organization supporting President Donald Trump, on Wednesday made its first three Senate endorsements for the 2018 midterms.

Great America Alliance is backing Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. All three Republicans are seeking the GOP nod for Senate in their states.

Democratic Young Guns Take Different Approach to Rebuilding Party
In trip to early voting Iowa, Bustos rebuilds from the bottom, while Ryan and Moulton want to topple the top

Democratic Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, center, and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, left, get instructions before working the grill during the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry in Des Moines on Sept. 30. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Before the Polk County Democratic Party’s steak fry, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos was trying to give potential candidates the secret sauce for Democrats to win in rural areas.