Dianne Feinstein

Gorsuch Avoids Missteps at Supreme Court Hearing
“I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party”

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building, March 21, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch spent 11 hours Tuesday abstaining from giving personal opinions on controversial issues and reassuring critics that he isn’t beholden to President Donald Trump, generally avoiding the kind of major slip that could trip up his confirmation.

Gorsuch adopted a solemn tone at times and tried to add dashes of levity at others, as he fielded gentle Republican questions and fended off Democratic queries on abortion rights, campaign finance and his previous decisions on administrative law and workers rights.

Gorsuch: I Would Have ‘No Difficulty’ Ruling Against Trump
Tells Grassley it was a ‘softball’ question

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch fist-bumps his nephew Jack on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called it an easy question Tuesday when asked if he would have any trouble ruling against President Donald Trump, who nominated him to the high court.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Gorsuch responded to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party, other than what the law and the facts in a particular case require.”

Gorsuch: Judges Aren’t ‘Politicians in Robes’
SCOTUS nominee tries to ease concerns about his legal philosophy

Judge Neil Gorsuch takes his seat for the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on Monday for his Supreme Court nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Judge Neil Gorsuch used family details to introduce himself to the country Monday on the opening day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and sought to ease Democrats’ concerns about his legal philosophy.

In his opening statement, Gorsuch spoke of starting off married life with his wife, Louise, in a small apartment. The federal appeals court judge shared his favorite memories of his teenage daughters, such as bathing chickens for the county fair. The Colorado native mentioned his father’s lessons that kindness is a great virtue and there are few experiences closer to God than wading in a trout stream.

Flashback Friday: Garland Heads to the Senate
One year later, a different nominee is up for confirmation

Garland, right, made his first visit with senators, including Reid, left, one year ago today. Republicans never granted the Supreme Court nominee a hearing. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2016, Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick G. Garland made his first visit to the Senate. But the luck of the Irish wasn’t enough to move his nomination forward. One year later, a different judge is facing a confirmation hearing.

Garland, the chief judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, made his way to the Senate one year ago today, the day after President Barack Obama nominated him to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Fellow Clerks Push Gorsuch Confirmation
Nominee’s colleagues from time together in D.C. express support

Judge Neil Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Dozens of former law clerks of federal appeals judge David Sentelle have written to the Senate calling for quick confirmation of their onetime colleague Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“We work for law firms, public interest groups, private companies, government entities, and academic institutions. What unites us is our firm conviction that Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court,” wrote the 60 Sentelle clerks.

Fears Surface of Russian Hack of Congress IT System
Subcommittee told legislative branch is highly vulnerable

Sasse asked about the likelihood of a Russian incursion. Witnesses said it was likely. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators’ examination of Russian efforts to undermine democracies took a turn that hit close to home on Wednesday, when witnesses openly speculated to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism that Congress itself was likely the victim of nefarious hacking.

When Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked experts testifying about the likelihood of such an incursion, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves offered it was “almost certain” congressional IT systems have been infiltrated by Russia’s security services, particularly if two-factor security is not deployed.

Trump Will Need Democratic Cooperation to Replace US Attorneys
Judiciary Committee process, plus scarce floor time, could leave career lawyers in charge

Preet Bharara is one of 46 former U.S. attorneys whose posts the Trump administration now has to fill. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Under normal circumstances, senators might act quickly to advance and confirm a president’s nominees to be U.S. attorneys across the country.

But with President Donald Trump in office, nothing is proving to be ordinary.

Senators Cranky About Appropriations Process
Little appetite for another continuing resolution

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had spoken against punting on appropriations bills last fall with a continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I will never vote for a CR again.”

That was all the normally talkative Sen. Lindsey Graham cared to say when asked about the prospect of completing his State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill this year, or, as has become custom, funding that part of the government through another continuing resolution. The South Carolina Republican wants to create a new account to help countries in Eastern Europe battle Russian propaganda, something that wouldn’t happen if spending is just put on auto-pilot through a CR. 

Tennessee, Texas Stand Out for Strengthened Hill Sway
In Roll Call’s Clout Index for this Congress, California delegation’s longtime hold on top spot is threatened

Party affiliation and longevity have helped propel members of the Tennessee delegation such as Sen. Bob Corker into positions that convey authority and power, Hawkings writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

No state in this decade has seen a more meaningful boost than Tennessee in institutionalized congressional influence.

Only eight states, all with much bigger delegations because they’re much more populous, have more overt sway at the Capitol this year. That is one of several notable findings from the new Roll Call Clout Index, which the newspaper uses to take a quantifiable measurement of every state’s potential for power at the start of each new Congress.  

Congress Split on How to Proceed on Flynn
House, Senate lawmakers differ on probe of former national security adviser

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., conduct a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol on investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers who oversee intelligence are struggling with how to investigate reports that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had inappropriate contact with Russian officials and later misled the White House about it.

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee offered dueling perspectives on a path forward on their panel’s probe; Senate Democrats coalesced around a plan with the Intelligence Committee taking the lead, something their GOP colleagues support; Senate Democrats also said the Judiciary Committee could play an investigatory role, and some lawmakers are still sending signals they want an independent commission in on the action.