Illinois

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.

Trump’s Fluid Views on Policy Drive Headaches in Senate
Health care flip-flop latest in a series of policy shifts by the president

President Donald Trump, seen here Monday at the White House Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has rankled senators with his shifting policy views. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray went to bed Tuesday evening thinking they had hit a home run. The duo at the helm of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee did the seemingly impossible and reached bipartisan consensus on a bill to help stabilize the insurance markets that had the support of President Donald Trump.

Then came the tweet.

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.

Sessions: ‘Dreamers’ Fix Must Drive Down Illegal Immigration
AG has long opposed efforts to grant undocumented childhood immigrants legal status

Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed immigration issues in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told senators Wednesday they could work with President Donald Trump to protect undocumented childhood immigrants from deportation as long as “amnesty” is coupled with efforts to reduce illegal immigration overall.

“The president has said he wants to work with Congress. He has a heart for young people,” Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee at a wide-ranging Justice Department oversight hearing.

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.

Meet the Challengers Who Outraised House Incumbents
Some Democrats raised two to three times more than GOP lawmakers in third quarter

Democrat Anthony Brindisi raised more money during the third quarter than GOP freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney in New York’s 22nd District. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

Nearly one year out from the 2018 midterms, challengers outraised nearly 30 percent of the incumbents in competitive races during the third quarter.

Sixteen Republican incumbents in competitive races raised less than their Democratic challengers during the third quarter. One Democratic incumbent was outraised by a GOP challenger.

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.

On Climate Issues, House GOP Warms Gradually
As more Republicans sign on, the Climate Solutions Caucus is gaining steam

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo has joined 20 Republican colleagues on a resolution that calls conservation a “conservative principle.” (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

BY ELVINA NAWAGUNA

When a Republican congressman in July tried to strip the 2018 defense spending bill of its requirement to plan for global warming and rising sea level threats, a group of House GOP lawmakers joined Democrats to kill the effort.

Word on the Hill: Schneider Rides the Bus
McCain’s award, Conaway’s life in D.C., McSally on sexism

Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider is getting on a commuter bus around 8 a.m. Tuesday to meet with constituents. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., is taking his town hall on the road today.

He will use his “Commuter Town Hall” on the PACE bus in his suburban Chicago district to meet constituents during their work commutes.

Brady and Ryan Mulling Big Gamble on Key Tax Deduction
State and local tax deduction has its fans among rank and file, though

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady want to repeal the state and local tax deduction, but face resistance from several GOP colleagues in high-tax states. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders face many decisions regarding details of a tax overhaul but perhaps none more immediately consequential than whether to roll the dice and try to eliminate the state and local tax, or SALT, deduction.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas and Speaker Paul D. Ryan have made it abundantly clear they’d prefer to get rid of the deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct what they pay in state and local property taxes and either state income taxes or sales taxes.