Charles E Grassley

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.

Bipartisan Tax Bill More Durable, GOP Says After White House Meeting
Toomey sees overlap, but Democrats show little enthusiasm

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, seated left, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, seated center, and Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, standing center, were among the Finance Committee members who met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday about a tax overhaul bill. Also pictured, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, standing right. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

After huddling Wednesday with President Donald Trump and a handful of Democrats, Senate Republican tax writers said an overhaul bill that secures bipartisan support would be more “durable” than a GOP-only path. 

Senate Republicans are moving ahead with plans to ensure a tax bill could pass with as few as 50 GOP votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. But after a White House meeting with Trump and five Senate Finance Committee Democrats, three GOP members on that panel said they agree with the president that a bipartisan bill is preferable.

Trump Twists Judiciary Leaders’ Findings on Comey Actions
President says Clinton ‘not interviewed’ despite July 2016 session with FBI

A school group from Illinois touring the Newseum in Washington pauses in June to watch former FBI Director James Comey testify before senators. President Trump again attacked him Wednesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump started Wednesday by twisting the findings of two senior Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, tweeting that Hillary Clinton was among “people not interviewed” by the FBI in an investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of State.

The FBI released documents Monday that show then-FBI Director James Comey began writing a statement exonerating Clinton before he concluded his investigation. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of Judiciary’s Crime and Terrorism subcommittee, first revealed Comey’s actions Aug. 31.

Judgment Days for Judicial Nominees
Several factors will affect schedule for Senate confirmation of judges

The Republican president and Senate have a chance to reshape the judicial branch, but several factors will determine how things stack up . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators face a lengthy list of President Donald Trump’s judicial picks, but consideration of the nominees could be affected by three significant factors: an extensive backlog of vacancies, Republican leaders’ willingness to continue altering chamber traditions, and the Democrats’ lack of motivation to aid GOP efforts to remake the judiciary.

There are 121 vacancies at the U.S. District Court level and an additional 21 vacancies on federal appeals courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

In Iowa, Heartland Democrats Ask ‘What About the Economy, Stupid?’
But candidates are divided on how populist their messages need to be

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talks with Heather Ryan (no relation), a Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 3rd District, during a steak fry in Des Moines on Sept. 30. (Charlie Neibergall/AP File Photo)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Democrats in the Midwest know that the way to win back voters in states like Iowa is to talk about the economy, but they’re debating how exactly to do it.

As a state that can make or break presidential campaignsand one that had regularly sent liberal Democrats to Washington, Iowa now serves as a test of whether Democrats can win back white voters who have swung toward the Republican Party over the last decade.

McConnell: Democratic ‘Blue Slips’ Won’t Block Trump Judges
Says objections home-state Democrats will only indicate dissent

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made his most pointed comments yet about judicial nominations. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that Senate Republicans intend to get President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed no matter what obstacles the Democrats throw their way.

The Kentucky Republican has now confirmed he plans to move forward on judicial nominees even if home-state Democratic senators don’t return their so-called “blue slips” to the Judiciary Committee.

Want to Know How to Curb Gun Violence? Don’t Ask Congress
Majorities have blocked gun-related research for decades

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords turns to shake her fist at the Capitol as her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, looks on during a news conference after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The mass shooting in Las Vegas last week — like every high-profile mass shooting — raised a host of questions about why such horrors happen and how they can be prevented. But don’t look to Congress to help provide the answers.

Could gunman Stephen Paddock have been stopped while he was stockpiling dozens of weapons ahead of his rampage if law enforcement officials had tracked and flagged suspicious gun purchasing patterns?

Grassley to Corker and Trump: ‘Cool It’
Trump ups the ante on Tuesday, saying ‘Liddle’ Bob Corker’ was set up by the New York Times

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker traded Twitter barbs with President Donald Trump over the weekend. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley told both retiring Sen. Bob Corker and President Donald Trump to ease up on their feud.

Grassley said he didn’t see how the conflict between the two Republicans was productive, “And I think it would help if the president would be the first to cool it,” the Iowa Republican told The Associated Press, which attempted to contact all 52 Republican senators for their take on the war of words.

Senators Debate When Nominee’s Religion Is Fair Game
Democrats’ questioning of appeals court pick stirs discussion

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, second from left, have stirred controversy over their recent questioning of an appellate nominee. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Senate Judiciary Committee vote on a controversial appeals court pick Thursday prompted a discussion about when it is appropriate to ask questions about a nominee’s religion — and even a suggestion to hold a public hearing on the issue.

The topic arose because of questions Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois asked last month during a confirmation hearing for Amy Barrett, a University of Notre Dame law professor and a Roman Catholic who is nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.