Mazie K Hirono

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

During more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr avoided the kind of missteps that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

The many ways members of Congress can make a stink
Yes, they can donate pay, but they can also get arrested or wear hoodies

Members including, from left, Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., John Lewis, D-Ga., Judy Chu, D-Calif., Al Green, D-Texas, Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., and others march to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices last June in protest of the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Health law appeal paused as shutdown affects federal courts
Justice Department also asks for pause in suit concerning acting AG Whitaker

Citing the shutdown, Justice Department lawyers asked for a pause in a suit challenging the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, pictured here. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a two-page order granting the Trump administration’s request to halt the 2010 health care law case “in light of lapse of appropriations.”

Here are lawmakers diverting pay in solidarity with shutdown employees
Thousands of civilian workers will not receive paychecks due next week if deal to end shutdown isn’t reached

Sen. Mazie Hirono said she will donate her paycheck to food banks in Hawaii during the shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several lawmakers have declared they will decline their paycheck or will donate it to charity in solidarity with civilian workers furloughed or working without pay.

Federal workers received their regular paychecks last week for work completed before the shutdown, but if a spending agreement is not reached soon, thousands could see a delay in paychecks scheduled for next Friday.

Senators Christmas Carol Their Way to Approval of Stopgap Government Funding
Live quorum call comes with melody of O Come All Ye Faithful

Christmas carols rang out throughout the Senate on Wednesday as the chamber passed a continuing resolution to fund the government.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate procedural vote turned into sing-along session late Wednesday night as a group of senators gathered for a live quorum call and passed the time by singing Christmas carols, all leading up to a voice vote that passed stopgap spending legislation to avert a partial government shutdown.

The group of senators, which included Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Angus King of Maine and others gathered together to sing a range of festive tunes.

Democrats Press Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to Disclose More About Political Ads
Senators want voluntary disclosures about buyers of politically charged advertising

Democrats want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to offer more voluntary disclosure about political ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A contingent of Senate Democratic Conference members want Facebook to voluntarily disclose more about the sources of advertising dollars on the social media platform.

The group led by New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, highlights in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg efforts by Russia to use Facebook to spread political messaging to undermine the U.S. electoral process.

These House Newbies Are Already Fundraising for 2020
Just weeks after midterms, some candidates have started raising money for the next round

Rep.-elect Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., picked a disappointing number during the new member office lottery draw in Rayburn Building. But his campaign is already working on keeping him behind the desk. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew just got elected to Congress. He won’t be sworn in until Jan. 3. But his campaign is already working to keep him there.

Just weeks after he flipped a South Jersey seat that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, Van Drew joined a handful of other newly elected lawmakers in making appeals for donations for their next campaigns.

Schumer Asks if Acting AG Talked to White House About Russia Probe Details
Senate Democratic leader requests review by Justice Department inspector general

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has  questions about contacts between the White House and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker about the Russia investigation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants to know if the acting attorney general talked to the White House about the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Specifically, the New York Democrat is asking Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz about contacts between Matthew G. Whitaker and other parts of the Donald Trump administration about the work of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team.

Democratic Senators Sue Trump Over Whitaker Appointment
Blumenthal, Whitehouse, Hirono say move violates Appointments Clause

Matt Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general by President Donald Trump after Jeff Sessions was asked to stepped down. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, asking a federal court to stop him from leading the Justice Department.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii argue in the case that President Donald Trump’s move to name Whitaker temporarily as the nation’s top law enforcement official violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

Senate Judiciary Returns to Business as Usual After Kavanaugh
No protesters. No extra security. No media buzz. And Lindsey Graham barely said a word

After a few weeks of passionate speeches, Sen. Lindsey Graham was subdued Thursday as the Judiciary Committee got back to business as usual. (Jim Bourg/Reuters/Pool)

Life after the Brett Kavanaugh fight got off to a subdued start Thursday for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Gone was the energetic buzz of news media, protesters and police officers that filled the hallway outside the committee’s hearing room in prior weeks. Inside the room, the senators spoke only in muted tones that contrasted sharply with the passionate speeches just two weeks earlier during a committee vote on the Supreme Court pick.