Orrin G Hatch

Seeking to shrink Bears Ears, uranium firm met with Interior before review
House panel plans oversight hearing on monuments next week

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a review that led to substantially reduced boundaries for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. A company tied to mineral interests there met with a senior Interior Department official nearly a month before President Donald Trump requested the review. (George Frey/Getty Images file photo)

A meeting between an Interior Department official and a company tied to mineral interests in the Bears Ears National Monument area — almost a month before President Donald Trump requested a review that substantially reduced its boundaries — may end up in the crosshairs of House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva.

Documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian energy firm, met with a top Interior official who would be involved with the review before Trump requested it.

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

Barr nomination to get votes on the Senate floor next week
Comes after 12-10 committee vote, which reflected concerns from Democrats about how he would handle the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to limit debate and cut off any filibuster threats against the Barr nomination Thursday, setting up votes as soon as the Senate finishes work on a bipartisan package of public lands bills.

Sen. Tim Scott picks ‘Movin’ On Up’ as his moving-day soundtrack
The South Carolina Republican has an almost brand-new office, plus a giant roll of bubble wrap

Sen. Tim Scott is moving into an office this week that just one other lawmaker has ever occupied. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tim Scott is moving into an office this week that just one other lawmaker has ever occupied. That’s as close to brand-new as you can get in the Senate.

Former Sen. Orrin Hatch moved into Hart 104 when the building first opened in 1982 and vacated the space upon his retirement in December. After 36 years, the suite was packed with personal treasures, including his Book of Mormon, a rifle given to him by the NRA and a recent gift from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senators Confirm Slew of Trump Nominees in Final Hours of 115th Congress
List does not include lifetime judicial appointments; next business will be in the new Congress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got a deal to confirm more of President Donald Trump’s nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As a practical matter, the 115th Congress is finally history.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement that the Senate will convene for a pro forma session at 11:50 a.m. Thursday, but there will be no real business until after noon arrives, when the new Congress begins, as outlined in the Constitution. 

Negotiations on Spending Deal Will Continue, But No Deal in Sight
Senate won’t vote on House spending plan, McConnell says he hopes White House and Democrats can make a deal

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., is seen on the Capitol's Senate steps before a procedural vote on the spending bill on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker reached an agreement with the two Senate leaders that no vote on a spending plan will happen until there’s agreement between Senate Democrats, House Republicans and the White House.

“We’re not voting on anything else ... until there’s a global agreement,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

The Criminal Justice Bill Shows Where the GOP Is on Race
It wasn’t always this way for the party of Lincoln

Sen. Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, may have gotten his party’s backing for the criminal justice bill, Curtis writes. But where were his GOP colleagues when he tried to block the confirmation of Thomas Farr? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Sen. Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, was optimistic after the Senate passed an amended bill this week that makes bipartisan progress on an issue — criminal justice reform — that has divided lawmakers for years.

Scott, an original co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “By cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education and mental health and substance abuse treatments for incarcerated individuals, and making our criminal justice system both smarter and tougher, we have taken a positive step forward.”

Schumer and Hatch Bet That Sports Betting Ripe for Legislating
No real time left during this session, but foundation for later action is possibility

Senate Minority Leader. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, are laying down the foundation for future legislation on sports betting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Before Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch heads for retirement, he’s laying down one more legislative marker, with a powerful Democratic ally.

The Utah Republican teamed up with Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York on Wednesday to set out a framework for regulating sports betting in the United States, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court recently throwing out a federal law that had denied the ability of New Jersey to have legalized gambling on sporting events.

Charities Feeling Flush Despite Tax Law Change
Small gifts are down, but big donors have more than made up for it

Charities argued against doubling the standard deduction, but so far the change hasn’t slowed down giving. Above, President Donald Trump, flanked by Republican lawmakers, celebrates the 2017 tax law. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Year-end holiday giving is make-or-break time for America’s charitable sector. Donors who give now may feel compelled by the spirit of the season, but many of them also know that they can soon write off their gifts on their taxes and recoup a portion of their money.

But that latter incentive affects fewer people this year, thanks to a provision in the 2017 tax law that roughly doubled the standard deduction. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office projects that 31 million fewer households will itemize their taxes next year, eliminating their tax incentive to give to charity.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Sworn in for Second Time This Year
Appointed Mississippi Republican won special election in November

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber after the real swear in on the Senate floor on December 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was sworn into office for the second time in 2018, the result of having won a special election runoff for the seat she had been appointed to earlier this year.

On Monday afternoon, as the Senate started its workweek, Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin G. Hatch administered the oath of office to the Mississippi Republican. In March, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to replace Republican Thad Cochran, who resigned. She took the oath of office on April 9 and immediately went about the business of running in November’s special election to fill out the remainder of Cochran’s term.